When I heard on CNN last night that the owners of a nursing home in St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana,were, according to a report in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, arrested" September 13, 2005 and "booked" on charges of "negligent homicide for allegedly failing to evacuate the home despite grave warnings" about Hurricane Katrina's power "and an offer by parish officials to send buses" that were turned down, I immediately started thinking about the charges as if were preparing their defense.
According to Louisiana Attorney General Charles Foti, Salvador A. Mangano Sr and his wife, Mable B. Mangano, are responsible for the deaths of "34 residents" who died during Hurricane Katrina.
What caused this response?
During the past 15-years, I've conducted discovery for the defense on hundred civil cases for the Chicago Park District. Some were cases in which park patrons were killed by drowning in CPD pools or by a falling tree in a park, etc. Because of my experience with such cases, whenever I hear charges such as those filed against the Manganos, I immediately start thinking about how the case can been won, not whether or not the charges were merited.
After listening to Paula Zahn interview the Louisiana attorney general, the Manganos' Defense Attorney, James A. Cobb, St. Bernard Parish Coroner Bryan Bertucci and a nurse who had the audacity to say the Manganos should have known the levees would break in New Orleans, I concluded that case could won in a court of law, if not in the court of public opinion.
Not only that, I asked: Why don't these folks keep their mouths closed. Admittedly, I did hear things from the coroner and the nurse that could help the defense. Second conclusion: No matter how the criminal case goes, it's the civil cases that will probably keep the Manganos in court for years.