By Aleese Kopf
Friday, March 5, 2010
The widow of a former KU athletics director says the recent lawsuit filed against the City of Lawrence and Black Hills Energy is meant to hold responsible parties accountable and prevent further injuries or deaths from faulty roadways.
Bob Frederick, a former professor and athletic director at the University, died in a cycling accident last June. His widow Margaret Frederick is suing the City of Lawrence and Black Hills Energy for not properly repairing the damaged pavement that caused her husband’s accident.
Margaret Frederick, wife of the late Bob Frederick, who served as a professor and athletic director, filed the lawsuit in Douglas County District Court Wednesday. The suit claims the city and the utility company were negligent in not properly repairing the damaged pavement that caused Bob Frederick’s cycling accident. On June 12, 2009, Bob and another cyclist were riding near the intersection of Sixth and Kasold streets when his bike hit a hole in the pavement. The uneven pavement was a result of construction on a gas line that Black Hills had recently finished. Frederick later died from severe head trauma at KU Medical Center.
The lawsuit, which asks for at least $75,000 in damages, claims it was Black Hills’ duty to fully repair the damage and warn bicyclists of holes, just as it was the city’s duty to inspect the work of companies that work on city roadways. The pothole was repaired the day after the accident.
Margaret Frederick said she filed the suit to help protect other cyclists in Lawrence.
“After a lot of thought and investigation, our family determined that this was an avoidable tragedy that could have been prevented,” she said in a prepared statement. “To prevent another family from having to experience what we’ve endured, and to improve safety for bicyclists and drivers in Lawrence, we want to make sure that the entities responsible for creating that hazard are held accountable.”
A representative of Black Hills Energy said they were deeply saddened when they heard of Mr. Frederick’s death, but would not comment on pending litigation.
The suit states that the defendants’ negligence deprived the Frederick family of Bob Frederick’s companionship and the defendants are required to fund medical treatment and funeral expenses. It also alleges that negligence caused Frederick to suffer “great physical, mental and emotional pain, anguish and fear” between the time of the accident and his death.
Lynn Johnson, one of the attorneys representing the Frederick family, said Black Hills should be held accountable for the hole. Johnson also reiterated the family’s intentions with the suit.
“The family is pursuing this because it’s an accident that should have been prevented and they want to make sure it doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Johnson said.
— Edited by Taylor Bern