Change of venue sought in girl’s shocking death

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SALINA, Kan. (AP) - A company that is being sued in the electric shock that led to the death of a 12-year-old Salina girl wants the trial in a lawsuit filed by her parents moved to another county.

Devonheir, doing business as Hope Electrical Products, has asked a judge to move the trial to Ottawa County. The company argues in court motions that it cannot get a fair trial in Saline County, where Jayden Hicks suffered from an electric shock last May while playing in the rain with friends in downtown Salina. She died in December after months of hospitalization and rehabilitation.

Her parents are seeking $10.5 million in damages from Hope Electrical and the city, The Salina Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1eHdZoT). They claim the city-owned electrical junction box wasn’t properly grounded.

A case management conference via telephone is scheduled for May 22 in Saline County District Court.

Given the “direct and substantial link” between Salina and Saline County, Devonheir could not get a fair hearing from Saline County jurors, the company argued in its motion, which was filed by Kansas City, Mo., attorney John Kellogg.

Kellogg also notes that the junction box that shocked Jayden is at Campbell Plaza, which is within walking distance of the City-County Building where the trial would be heard, and contends extensive media coverage could taint the jury pool.

“The nature of the accident, the young age of the decedent, and the degree of the injuries sustained by Jayden Hicks have understandably generated extreme emotion and passion from the residents of Salina,” the company’s motion reads.

The Hicks contend in their lawsuit that the junction box did not have a grounding screw, and that the company did not warn users that the box should be grounded.

The city of Salina has denied liability, arguing in court filings that the box had never caused any problems and was not opened after it was installed by an independent contractor in 1987.

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Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, http://www.salina.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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