Tuesday, April 18, 2000

Judge wants proof of liability in Mardi Gras claim

BY Susan Vela
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Two MainStrasse Village residents may be “right as rain” in suing the MainStrasse Village Association over its recent Mardi Gras celebration and the ensuing damage they sustained, but Kenton District Judge Frank Trusty wants legal proof.

        Monday, in the court's small-claims division, Judge Trusty told Damien Herold and Arthur Hilshorst that he wanted more evidence supporting why the association and its president, Kathy Snyder, should be held liable for property damage and sleep deprivation they say they sustained during the March Mardi Gras.

        The two, who are seeking $3,000 in damages, said they were holding the defendants responsible because the association organized the two-day festivities and profited from a record-breaking attendance of about 60,000.

        However, “just because someone organizes an event doesn't make them responsible,” said the judge, asking who would be held responsible if the Cincinnati Bengals won a game and their fans burned a building in celebration.

        “You may be as right as rain, but if you don't bring the proper evidence ... you're out of here,” Judge Trusty told Mr. Herold and Mr. Hilshorst, who were without legal assistance.

        That was in contrast to the association and Mrs. Snyder, who were represented by Covington lawyer Kelly Brown.

        Judge Trusty consolidated the lawsuits filed by Mr. Herold and Mr. Hilshorst before advising them to get legal assistance. He then ordered both sides to file documents within 20 days to support their arguments about the case.

        He promised to then write a memo laying out what he believes are the legal issues at hand.

        Judge Trusty's actions bumped up the case from the small-claims division to the regular District Court docket, which will allow Mr. Herold and Mr. Hilshorst to seek a maximum of $4,000 in damages.

        Mr. Herold has been seeking repayment for a broken window, a damaged air conditioner and for the 20 portable toilets that were parked in front of his house during Mardi Gras.

        Mr. Hilshorst said Monday that he wanted money for the sleep he lost due to the revelry.

        They were uncertain about whether they will hire an attorney, but Mr. Hilshorst promised to seek the maximum amount in damages.

        Mr. Brown doesn't think they'll get it.

        “I don't think there's evidence there that a duty has been breached,” he said.

        The association already has promised to not organize a Mardi Gras 2001. The decision came after many residents objected to the public urination and nudity at the festival.


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