Jurors in Rooks Co. will decide case

HAYS — A Rooks County jury of 12 people will decide whether a baby in the womb felt conscious pain and suffering during a failed vacuum suction delivery.

Chief Judge Glenn Braun for the 23rd Judicial District in Hays made the ruling Wednesday during a hearing for pretrial matters. Attorneys for the hospital and the delivering physician argued vigorously against a jury deciding.

A jury decision later at trial, apparently the first of its kind in U.S. case law, could ultimately go up on appeal to a higher court, Braun said.

But for now it means the parents of the baby, Derek and Mireya Stiles, Hays, can go ahead with their $10 million wrongful death lawsuit against Rooks County Health Center in Plainville, and family medicine physician Beth Oller, of Stockton. The trial has been delayed indefinitely by the coronavirus pandemic.

“As you know,” Braun told the Stileses, the attorneys and a handful of observers in his second-floor courtroom at the Ellis County Courthouse, “the court is really struggling with this issue.”

“At 3 o’clock in the morning as I was thinking about this case, I kept wondering, why, why is there not case law on this issue?” Braun said.

In Kansas’ wrongful death statutes, the Legislature includes an unborn child but doesn’t specifically say a person in the womb can bring a claim for pain and suffering, Braun said.

United Way launches campaign to help service agencies

LEAVENWORTH — The Leavenworth County United Way has started a campaign to raise money for organizations that are assisting people in need during the coronavirus pandemic.

All of the money raised by the Leavenworth County United Way’s COVID-19 relief fundraising campaign will go to agencies that provide health, food, rent and utility payment assistance. Among the organizations that will benefit from the campaign are Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, St. Vincent Clinic, Alliance Against Family Violence, Basehor-Linwood Assistance Services, Team Tongie, Salvation Army and The Kids Connection.

“The goal is to quickly provide funds to agencies that help those in crisis,” said Larry Martin, chairman of the Leavenworth County United Way. “These are extraordinary times with more people unemployed and/or ill and needing our assistance. This is a tangible, reliable way to help your neighbors while not risking infection for you or them.”

People can donate online at www.unitedwaylvco.org/donate/ or on Facebook.