Western asks for dismissal

Mai Hoang

Western administrators remain confident that they aren’t responsible for the May death of Pellville freshman Katie Autry.

Western filed a motion Oct. 3 to dismiss the wrongful death lawsuit submitted last month by Autry’s estate, arguing that the university has governmental immunity and can’t be sued by the relatives.

“Because WKU is a state institution of higher education, the plaintiffs’ claim against WKU is barred by governmental immunity and can only be heard before the Board of Claims,” said the motion, written by Bowling Green attorney Greg Stivers.

General Counsel Deborah Wilkins would not comment.

Stivers is also representing Sandra Hess and Aubrey Livingston, who were Poland Hall directors last year, and Lynne Allison Todd, Alex Kuehne and Aja Hendrix, who were resident assistants at the time of the fire last spring.

They’re being represented as employees of Western, he said.

Those dorm staff members also have governmental immunity and cannot be sued by the Autry estate, the motion said.

Ben Crocker, the attorney representing the Autry estate, could not be reached for comment.

Virginia White, Autry’s aunt, said she and Crocker expected Western to file this motion under governmental immunity.

White did not want to comment on the validity of the motion.

Regardless, White said she is still confident about the Autry estate’s position in the lawsuit.

“If policies and procedures are followed then they wouldn’t have to worry about it,” she said.

Stivers said he would not comment on the merits of Western’s motion.

But Stivers said “Western is confident in its position.”

Western released a statement last month that said while it “regrets the crime that was perpetrated against” Autry, they are confident the two men charged for her death are solely responsible.

No trial date has been set for either Stephen L. Soules or Lucas B. Goodrum, the two men charged for Autry’s murder.

The motion will be brought for a hearing at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 3 at the Warren County Justice Center.

Reach Mai Hoang at [email protected]