PRESS RELEASE: Orleans Parish School Board Wins Litigation In High School Shooting Case

October 4, 2011 - 3 minute read

For Immediate Release — February 18, 2011

New Orleans, LA:  On April 14, 2003, two young men, armed with automatic weapons entered the gymnasium of the John McDonogh Senior High School in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The gym was filled with over 200 students participating in various school classes and activities.  The assailants sprayed the gym with gunfire, murdering their intended target, Jonathan Williams, and injuring four others before escaping into the surrounding neighborhood.  One of the assailants was convicted of first degree murder and is serving a life sentence without the benefit of the parole.  The other assailant accepted a plea bargain and is still incarcerated.  The parents of Mr. Williams and the other injured parties sued the Orleans Parish School Board, claiming lax security at the school and insufficient response by the School Board to warnings of potential violence against Mr. Williams.

In six days of testimony experts in security, former John McDonogh students, teachers, and administrators, police and school security officers, and others provided graphic testimony about the events of that day, one of the worst school shootings in America.   An expert in school security who had worked other infamous school shootings, including the Columbine tragedy, testified that the School Board had taken all reasonable steps to establish and maintain a safe and secure campus environment at John McDonogh.  Other witnesses testified to the deliberate nature of the assailants’ actions and the appropriate actions of teachers and administrators immediately following the assault.

Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Robin Giarusso ruled in favor of the Orleans Parish School Board, indicating that no additional actions on the part of the School Board likely would have prevented the brazen mid-day attack.  Giarusso called the attacks “unexpected, unprecedented and unforeseeable” and that “no place could have prevented [the] gangland-style assassination.” A copy of the complete judgment is attached.

The School Board was represented by firm of Rodney & Etter, LLC which continued its reputation for success in defense of high-profile litigation cases.  Rodney & Etter is a boutique litigation firm located in New Orleans.  Members of the firm have been recognized as top litigators by American Lawyer Magazine and others.

For more information contact:   Mr. Roy J. Rodney, Jr., Managing Partner, Rodney & Etter, LLC, 504-483-3224

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