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Jefferson City no longer defendant in lawsuit

Jefferson City no longer defendant in lawsuit

May 19th, 2018 by Nicole Roberts in Local News

A former Jefferson City High School student is no longer suing Jefferson City for negligence after being hit by a vehicle near the school.

Plaintiff Corey Burkhardt filed a dismissal without prejudice against the city May 4, which dismissed claims the city was negligent in maintaining a safe pedestrian crosswalk near Jefferson City High School. Cole County Judge Jon Beetem held a hearing Friday to discuss Burkhardt’s amended petition, which no longer will list the city as a defendant.

Burkhardt sued the city for more than $25,000 after being struck by a vehicle near JCHS in September 2010.

Burkhardt, who was a 15-year-old student at the school, was crossing Union Street near Jay Drive when defendant Paul Ross, driving westbound on Union Street, struck Burkhardt, according to the lawsuit. It claims defendant Delaney Thomas was sitting on the hood of the vehicle and obstructed Ross’ vision.

The lawsuit claimed the city was “careless, reckless, negligent, and at fault in causing the motor vehicle collision” because it did not have proper warnings or signs; traffic devices like traffic signals or flashers; or a safe pedestrian walkway for students. It noted the city created and maintained an “unsafe and dangerous street and parking design and condition, especially when used by inexperienced teenage drivers.”

Burkhardt experienced head, brain, back and hip injuries from the collision and experiences seizures and syncope, according to the lawsuit. She has accumulated more than $110,000 in medical bills as a result.

Burkhardt’s attorney Timothy Van Ronzelen, with Cook Vetter Doerhoff Landwehr PC in Jefferson City, said his client voluntarily decided to refile the petition without the city as a defendant because “we feel like the responsible parties, at least based upon what we see, are the two individuals, the driver and the person who sat on the hood of the car.”

Van Ronzelen said they plan to proceed with the lawsuit against Ross and Thomas.

St. Louis attorney Robbye Hill Toff, who represented Jefferson City, said the city took steps to make the street safe for pedestrians.

Burkhardt could refile the negligence claims against the city again, though, Toff and Van Ronzelen said.

The case was filed in July 2017 and originally named the city, Ross, Thomas and Jefferson City Public Schools as defendants. JCPS was dropped from the lawsuit in December.

Along with Van Ronzelen, Burkhardt is being represented by Matthew Clement with Cook Vetter Doerhoff Landwehr and John Lake with Lake Law Firm in Jefferson City.

Ross is represented by John Franke and Joan Sheridan from Kansas City law firm Franke, Schultz, & Mullen PC.

Thomas is represented by Robert Buckley and Ryan Bertels with Schreimann Rackers & Francka in Jefferson City.