The mother of Jared Kellner testified at a tort hearing following proposed legislation by Scott Walker. This was a case where contractors cut corners causing a safety problem at the O’Donnell parking structure on Milwaukee’s lakefront. A cement slab fell from the parking structure and killed Jared.
The irony of this whole thing is that Scott Walker was negligent as County Executive. Inspections were cut and the public’s safety was jeopardized resulting in Jared’s death. Walker told Jared’s mother, Dawn, that he would support her in a lawsuit. He is now proposing tort legislation that protects the contractors responsible for the loss of her child.
To see Dawn Kellner’s heart-wrenching testimony go to:
Here is her prepared statement regarding the bill:
Good afternoon. My name is Dawn Kellner.
When I said goodbye to my son on June 24, 2010, I had no idea it would be the last time I spoke to him. I didn’t know I would never hear his voice or get a hug from him again. I didn’t know that we would never spend another Christmas together.
My fifteen year old son, Jared, died on June 24, 2010, while walking to Summerfest in Milwaukee. He was crushed by a 13 ½ ton piece of concrete that fell from the O’Donnell Park parking structure. We know that this concrete slab was a ticking time bomb. The contractors cut corners and did not follow the original plans. Governor Walker, then Milwaukee County Executive, called this installation “inexcusable.” This is what happens when profits are put over safety and my son paid the ultimate price. No criminal prosecution has resulted from my son’s senseless death. I had to hire my own lawyers to go after those responsible for my son’s death.
I have to ask a jury to make sure that those responsible are held accountable and punished.
After my son died, Governor Walker told the media that he wanted to reach out to me to join in any potential lawsuit. So why is it that his very first proposal as Governor is to protect people like those who killed my son? Nobody wants to put hard-working businesses out of business, but this bill protects bad businesses like those that killed my son. Why? Why does Governor Walker want to protect the worst of the worst? Punitive damages keep bad businesses in check. They stop businesses from cutting corners and putting people’s lives in jeopardy. But this bill removes that check. It encourages cutting corners, puts profits over public safety, and endangers everyone.
My motivation for being here today is not just to remember Jared’s senseless death. I want all of you to think of your family and the families you represent around this State and I want you to think about what this past Christmas would have been like without them. That is my life now. Heaven forbid that one of your family members should die because of “inexcusable” acts like Jared did. And heaven forbid that you would be prevented from holding accountable those that intentionally disregard your rights. Jared’s motto was to “Live Life.” His right to “Live Life” was
Taken away from him that day and no one else should lose that right.
This bill is a slap in the face to my son and the family of the next Jared Kellner and a slap on the back to bad businesses that cut corners and put profits over safety. As a tribute to Jared, I ask Governor Walker and this panel to not pass these laws.