Saturday, April 22, 2000

Judge rejects asbestos lawsuit

BY Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Three families suing Covington Independent Schools and general contractors after a 1998 asbestos scare at Latonia Elementary School must take their case to Kenton Circuit Court.

        U.S. District Judge William O. Bertelsman said Thursday he would dismiss the case from federal court and remand it to the state court system.

        He said finding school officials liable of gross negligence at the federal level requires proof that their alleged actions were malicious or intentional. That cannot be proved in this case, he said.

        The school system is expected to escape liability at the state level, too, because they have sovereign immunity. According to Kentucky law, no one can sue the state or any of its agencies, even for the negligent actions of its employees.

        Attorneys for the plaintiffs and defendants consider it a done deal that charges against the school system will be dismissed in circuit court.

        “We're very pleased with the outcome,” said Don Ruberg, a Covington lawyer representing the school system.


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