Sunday, October 20, 2002

Judge delays trial in lawsuit filed against Murray State

The Associated Press

MURRAY, Ky. - A judge has delayed the trial involving a lawsuit filed against Murray State University's board of regents by the mother of a student killed in a dormitory fire Sept. 18, 1998.

The trial was scheduled to begin this week, but was postponed until May 6.

Michael Minger, 19, of Niceville, Fla., died of smoke inhalation. His mother, Gail Minger, filed the suit.

Investigators say the fire was intentionally set in the hallway of Hester Hall in the early morning hours while he and others slept.

Arson charges filed against a former student were dropped after a criminal-court jury deadlocked 10-2 in favor of acquittal.

Gail Minger claims in the suit that university officials failed to investigate adequately an earlier fire in the dorm that also was believed to have been arson.

She also said university officials failed to warn students of the danger of a fire.

Ms. Minger blames the trial delay on attorneys for Murray State. She says the university didn't disclose the names of some of their expert witnesses and other information until last month.

However, John Rall, the attorney for the university, said he met the deadlines set by the judge.

He also said in court documents that the delay was caused when Ms. Minger's attorneys failed to schedule depositions of expert witnesses in time for the trial to begin on schedule.

Circuit Judge Dennis Foust said attorneys for both sides requested the delay to give them more time to review evidence and take depositions.

"This is a very complicated case. It is in the interest of both sides that it be continued, and they both agreed," Judge Foust said.

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