Appeals Court Reverses District Court Decision in Electrocution Death Case

The Kansas Court of Appeals has ruled that a district court judge was too quick to absolve the city of Salina of negligence in the electrocution death of a young girl back in 2013, reversing the original decision and ordering it back to the Saline County District Court. This likely means that the civil case brought against the city of Salina by the girl’s parents will be decided by a jury.

The district court judge, Bill Elliott, originally dismissed the city of Salina from the lawsuit, claiming that it had "recreational use immunity." Kansas law stipulates that municipalities aren’t responsible for any damages on public property unless the government or a government employee is found guilty of “gross or wanton negligence.” Elliott did not agree that the city showed negligence of this kind, which resulted in the girl’s parents bringing their case to the appeals court.

Jayden Hicks was 11 years old when she was electrocuted while playing in Salina’s Campbell Plaza. The girl slipped in a puddle that was near a high-voltage in-ground junction box. The metal cover was electrically charged. Firefighters quickly responded and rendered medical aid, but Jayden’s injuries proved fatal. She died seven months later at only 12 years old.

According to court records, the junction box had been installed in the 1980s by an outside company who did electrical work for the city. The city is alleged to have never inspected the wiring inside the box. It was determined that a ground wire was never installed.

Steven Adams was the city’s master electrician at the time that Jayden was hurt. After the accident, he is said to have inspected the box and admitted that he knew there was no ground wire. This, coupled with the failure to ever correct the problem, may be enough to prove gross or wanton negligence.

The appeals court judges have made it clear that they did not reverse Elliott’s ruling because they found the city of Salina negligent. Rather, they explained that Elliott was incorrect in deciding the matter by summary judgment without a trial.

Bartimus Frickleton and Robertson, P.C. has handled complex personal injury cases for more than 40 years. If you are in need of representation after a serious accident, call on us for the help you need. Free consultations are available when you call (913) 225-8555.