Judge denies continuance of school shooting suit

By Alejandro de los Rios | Sep 28, 2010

Judge Robin Giarusso denied a defense motion to continue an Oct. 11 trial date in a lawsuit against the Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB) regarding a 2003 school shooting.

Orleans residents Valerie Barracks, Angela Robair, Johnnie Brown, Keva Jackson, Michelle Brown and Gloria Williams are suing the OPSB and the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) on behalf of their children who were victims and witnesses to a 2003 school shooting at John McDonogh 28 high school, which resulted in one death and three injuries.

New Orleans attorneys Roy Rodney Jr., Norlisha Parker Burke and John Etter are representing the OPSB.

The New Orleans City Attorney's office is representing the NOPD.

New Orleans attorneys Clifford Cardone, Patricia Dean, Peter Derbes and Metairie attorney Clement Donelon are representing the plaintiffs.

Cardone filed Barracks' original petition for damages in April 2003. That case was consolidated with suits filed by Robair, Brown and Williams.

At a status conference hearing today, Burke argued that continuing the trial date was necessary because expert witness depositions had not yet been conducted because plaintiff attorneys had failed to file reports and affidavits with the defense.

Donelon argues that the plaintiffs were "ready for trial" and that, when they met similar obstacles regarding defense reports on their expert witnesses, plaintiff attorneys found a way to go ahead with depositions at their expense.

Donelon also urged Giarusso to consider the families of the shooting victims and that they had been waiting more than seven years for closure in the matter.

Giarusso denied the continuance but severed the damage claims of Michelle Brown, whom plaintiff attorneys were unable to find until very recently.

Giarusso said that she doesn't expect Brown's depositions to be completed by the trial date and it would be unfair for the rest of the plaintiffs to have to wait on it since Brown will not introduce new liability to the case.

Orleans Parish Case 2003-06336

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