• Last modified 374 days ago (July 13, 2023)


Jail lawsuit moved to Wichita

Staff writer

After the City of Marion settled with the family of a woman who committed suicide in jail, the family dismissed its suit in Marion County and refiled it June 29 in Sedgwick County.

The newly-filed suit seeks more than $75,000 from Marion County and adds Sheriff Jeff Soyez as a defendant, seeking more than $75,000 from him despite the fact Soyez did not became sheriff until after Julie Starks committed suicide Dec. 5, 2020.

Soyez said the county’s lawyer told him the county would seek an immediate dismissal because of his inclusion in the suit.

“I had no control if it because I was not here,” Soyez said.

He said he imagined the family thought it might have a better chance of finding a sympathetic jury if the case went to trial there.

The original suit was filed Sept. 15, 2022, against Marion County and the City of Marion. The city settled for $15,000 before the case was dismissed without prejudice here.

In the new suit, the family claims the county and the sheriff are vicariously liable for the actions of their employees.

The family claims police and the sheriff’s office knew Starks had a history of attempting suicide, had intensifying thoughts of hurting herself, was experiencing auditory hallucinations telling her to kill herself, was a danger to herself and in need of impatient psychiatric treatment.

Some of the family’s claims in the original lawsuit are reiterated in the new suit. They include that the sheriff’s office didn’t take appropriate steps to prevent a suicide attempt, didn’t conduct a suicide risk assessment, didn’t properly train and supervise staff, didn’t monitor jail cameras, verbally abused inmates, and ordered an untrained inmate to perform CPR.

Last modified July 13, 2023