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Thu January 15, 2009
Wrong Defense: KC Must Litigate In Boy's Death
Kansas City, Mo. –
The Kansas City Court of Appeals has ruled that the city of Kansas City, Missouri is not immune from a claim of liability in the death of a 9 year old boy. Christopher Dill drowned on his school playground.
It happened in May of 2007 on a playing field of Maplewood Elementary School near Claycomo during and after a torrential thunderstorm. The boy and others were playing in an area where water rushed into an in ground culvert. He was sucked into the pipe. Horror stricken playmates and others couldn't save him. The boy's parents, Angela Phelps and Lynn Dill, sued the city and the North Kansas City School District claiming wrongful death. The plaintiff's attorney, Charlie Dickman, says the school district settled and paid some $350 thousand. The city balked and, though it's lawyers, said it didn't own the playground land and won a claim of sovereign immunity. But appeals court judges disagree now. Dickman says the city lost its right to immunity under an exception. In Mr. Dickman's words, "The city controls and owns the storm water system. So it's the city's storm water system and that is what Christopher Dill was sucked into."
It's unclear whether the city will appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court. The city attorney handling the case did not respond to an offer to comment.