Suit dismissal sought

Shawntaye Hopkins

The Student Life Foundation has joined Western in seeking dismissal of the lawsuit filed Sept. 18 by the estate of Pellville freshman Melissa “Katie” Autry.

SLF filed a motion Oct. 13 to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit filed, claiming it also has government immunity.

The foundation is entitled to immunity because it is an agent of Western, according to the motion written by Bowling Green attorney Charles English Jr.

Western filed a motion to dismiss on Oct. 3, stating that it had government immunity because it is a state entity. The SLF motion also said the university’s housing is protected because it is a government function.

Ben Crocker, a Bowling Green attorney representing the Autry estate, said he doesn’t think government immunity applies to SLF.

He said dismissing a lawsuit based on government immunity is a complicated area of Kentucky law.

“I think they were involved in a business function,” Crocker said. “They were not involved in a governmental function.”

English said he’s confident the lawsuit will be dismissed because SLF is entitled to government immunity.

“I have a belief that what I have cited in the memorandum is the law, and I hope the judge will interpret the law the same way that I do,” he said.

He said SLF wants to dismiss the lawsuit based on government immunity and not the merits of the case.

Crocker said SLF is not claiming whether or not they are at fault in Autry’s death.

Virginia White, Autry’s aunt, said a dismissal based on immunity wouldn’t mean that SLF isn’t at fault.

English said he believes SLF would be able to dismiss based on merits if the motion is not granted.

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Crocker said the dorm had inadequate security, which led to Autry’s death.

SLF holds the title to the dorm property and leases it to the university, English said. SLF does not provide security for the dorms.

Autry was raped, sodomized and set on fire on May 4 in her Poland Hall dorm room. She died on May 7 at Vanderbilt Medical University in Nashville.

Lucas B. Goodrum and Stephen S. Soules were charged with Autry’s murder. Both are being held at Warren County Regional Jail without bond.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]