Counties ask for dismissal of wrongful death suit

Box Butte and Dawes Counties have filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit over the death of 47-year-old Lori Heiting of Hay Springs in the Box Butte County jail a little more than 2 years ago.

Heiting died Dec. 4, 2010, after she was found unresponsive in her cell, where she was being held following her arrest in Dawes County for drunk driving the day before.

Heiting's daughter, Jennifer Young of Hay Springs, filed a lawsuit last month claiming the counties were negligent and violated Heiting's constitutional rights to due process and equal protection.

The counties say the lawsuit should be dismissed on two different grounds: they're protected from such lawsuits by sovereign immunity, and Young missed the two-year deadline to file her suit by about a month.

A Box Butte County grand jury on January 24, 2011, cleared officials of wrongdoing in Heiting's death. Box Butte County Attorney Kathleen Hutchinson said the grand jury determined Heiting died of natural causes, but she wouldn't specify an exact cause of death.

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