Over $975 Million in Verdicts and Recoveries Over $975 Million in Verdicts and Recoveries
Derrick Thomas' Mother Sues General Motors
Joe Lambe
The Kansas City Star
10/11/2000

The mother of former Kansas City Chief Derrick Thomas said in a lawsuit Tuesday that her son was paralyzed and later died because the roof of his Chevrolet Suburban caved in during a rollover.

The lawsuit filed in Jackson County Circuit Court also contends that the ambulance workers and a hospital in Kansas City were negligent. It seeks unspecified actual and punitive damages from all defendants.

Plaintiff Edith Morgan of Independence hopes to force General Motors Corp. to reveal statistics that would show Suburban has had many rollover and roof-crush accidents that have injured or killed occupants, said her lawyer, Gary C. Robb.

Many other cases have been hidden from public view by settlements that forbid disclosure of terms, Robb said. Revealing those terms, he said, could force the company to change the Suburban's design. "If Derrick Thomas' death means he will save many more lives, then his death will not be in vain," Robb said.

Morgan sued personally and as a representative of her son's estate. Robb said part of any damage award would go to the mothers of Thomas' seven children.

Thomas was paralyzed and his friend Michael Tellis was killed when the Chevrolet Suburban Thomas was driving crashed and rolled off an icy road Jan. 23. Neither victim wore a seat belt. Thomas, who was thrown from the Suburban, died Feb.8 in a Florida hospital when he suffered a pulmonary embolism.

The lawsuit contends that Thomas suffered his broken neck and head injuries before he was thrown from the vehicle. Pictures to be offered as evidence in the case show the vehicle's roof smashed inward 8 to 10 inches on the driver's side. "After it rolled, you get the roof crush and skull impact," Robb said."It's clear as a bell what the mechanism of injury is."

The lawsuit contends that the Suburban's roof should have been designed to maintain its structure in a common rollover. It also contends that Thomas' driver side air bag did not deploy.

Officials with General Motors declined to comment. Those with another defendant, Royal Chevrolet in Harrisonville, which sold Thomas, the 1999 Suburban also declined to comment. The lawsuit also names as defendants Emergency Providers Inc., the ambulance service that transported Thomas, and Liberty Hospital which treated Thomas for one day.

Claims against the ambulance service include improper stabilization of the injuries and transport to a hospital not equipped and staffed for severe spinal-cord injuries. The hospital, the lawsuit alleged, did not properly treat Thomas and contributed to his death.

A spokesperson for the ambulance service declined to comment. Joe Crossett, administrator for Liberty Hospital, said "That's not our view of what occurred; we did everything we thought conceivably possible."

Robb said Morgan did not want to comment on the case beyond a written statement that she hoped the lawsuit would not upset Chiefs' players.

"It was Mrs. Morgan's desire to file this lawsuit during the bye week because we wanted to minimize any distraction to the team." Robb said.




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Personal Injury Lawyers - Kansas City, Missouri

Personal injury is an area of law that pertains to the injury of an individual. Both physical and emotional injuries fall into this branch of tort law. A personal injury lawyer is generally involved in cases where an injury has occurred due to the negligence of another party.

Examples of cases that a personal injury lawyer in Kansas City, Missouri can assist with include workplace accidents, falling or other accidents in the home, premises liability, defective and hazardous product cases, and dental and medical malpractice cases. If negligence on behalf of another party can be proved in court, compensation may be awarded.

Personal injury attorneys can also assist with industrial disease cases that may include respiratory diseases or a decline in health due to hazardous occupational conditions. These and other medical cases are often very complex, and it is advised that all aspects of the claim be handled by an experienced attorney.

Wrongful Death Lawyers - Kansas City, Missouri

Wrongful death falls under the common law jurisdictions wherein a person may be held liable for a death. It is important to note that wrongful death is the only course of legal action in which a company, rather than an individual, is at fault for a death.

In Kansas City, Missouri, cases involving wrongful death accidents require a preponderance of evidence as the standard of proof. Generally, the suit is filed by close relatives.

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