UPDATE | Marshall Square property damage lawsuit resolved

(WRDW)
Published: Nov. 9, 2016 at 5:13 PM EST
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Thursday, Dec. 1, 2016

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A pre-trial hearing began Thursday ahead of a trial scheduled to start Monday in the property damage case for Marshall Square.

4:40 p.m.

The Marshall Square property damage lawsuit has been resolved after more than an hour of meeting behind closed doors in a pre-trial hearing Thursday afternoon. Both Goodman and Marshall Square LLC have reached an agreement with the lawyers of the plaintiffs.

4: 20 p.m.

An hour and a half after lawyers for Goodman and the plaintiffs in a property damage trial related to the Marshall Square fire went into a jury room, attorneys are still taking turns meeting with the judge.

According to our reporter/anchor in the courtroom, four attorneys for each side keep switching off to meet with Judge Carl Brown.

The plaintiff's lawyers include Harry Revell, Sam Nicholson, Adam King, and George "Sam" Nicholson.

The lawyers for Goodman Company include Tom Mazziotti, Barry Fleming, and Pierce Blitch.

3:32 p.m.

A pre-trail hearing for the Marshall Square property damage case has been put on hold for more than 45 minutes. According to News 12 NBC 26 anchor, Christie Ethridge, Goodman and the plaintiffs went into a jury room to speak together and then they both went in separately. It's still unclear what is being discussed.

2:48 p.m.

As soon as court was in session, lawyers for Goodman, the company that made the air conditioning units blamed for starting the fire, and the plaintiffs went into a jury room to talk. It's unclear what is being discussed.

According to a federal investigation, the units at risk were installed in hotels, hospitals, and schools across the country. The Department of Justice says Goodman Company broke the law and "knowingly failed" to inform the Consumer Public Safety Commission (CPSC) about a defect in their packaged terminal air conditioning (PTAC) units that created an "unreasonable risk of serious injury or death."

That risk was a fire hazard, that according to the federal complaint, caused burning, smoking, or all-out fires at facilities across the nation.


Friday, Nov. 10, 2016

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A judge overseeing the trial for the first lawsuit filed in the deadly Marshall Square fire has denied a request to postpone the trial.

Defense attorneys asked Judge Brown to postpone the trial set to start Dec. at a pretrial hearing on Wednesday. Judge Brown has denied that request so the trial will go as planned.

Charles Moye, the face of the lawsuit, testified on the stand Wednesday about why he thinks there should not be a delay in the trial.

This December a jury will hear the case about property damage and everything people lost in the fire.

Charles and Margaret Moye are the faces of this lawsuit. Both are in their 90s. Caryl Pender is their daughter. She says this trial could finally mean justice in their lifetime. She was with her parents the night of the fire and convinced them to get out.

In the year and a half since, she's watched them rebuild their lives with nothing but the clothes they had on when they left. She says now it's time for justice.

The case, filed last October, has been pending for a year, and they've tried just about everything to settle the case outside of court, but none of that has worked. So, starting Dec. 5, a jury will decide.


News 12 NBC 26 / Wednesday, November 9, 2016

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A former Marshall Square resident took the stand pleading for no more delays for fear he might not live another year.

This happened at a hearing at the Columbia County courthouse Wednesday where defense attorneys asked the judge to postpone the trial set to start Dec. 5.

More than half of Marshall Square's building is gone. With it, memories and possessions were destroyed that can't be replaced.

Nell Osterman and Kathleen Walsh lost everything important to them. When asked what they believe they deserve to get out of the case, the women said, "I don't know. Difficult question."

Then Osterman said, "It would have been kinder to end my life than to destroy all of my memories."

Almost a year and a half after the fire, some have fallen to that fate. Friends say eight people named in the property damage lawsuit have died since. So Wednesday the face of the lawsuit 95-year-old Charles Moye took the stand to beg for no more delays.

"I probably won't make it too much longer, and also they've had almost a year and a half to figure out what they want to do," Moye said.

After that, the courtroom went back and forth, each side passionately making their arguments.

"They've done everything they can to delay this case for the sole purpose of having this case end because these people die. And that's the very reason they're delaying," plaintiffs' attorney Jack Long said.

The defense took offense to that.

"To suggest that we're trying to delay to outlive a plaintiff is quite frankly pretty sorry. That is not what we're doing. We would like to exonerate our product as much as he wants justice for their clients," Tom Mazziotti said, attorney for Goodman Company.

Caught in the middle of it all are people like Osterman and Walsh, who just want the mess to end.

"They deserve to have it ended. We're tired of this waiting and arguing," they said.

Judge Carl Brown did not make a decision on whether to postpone the trial. He said he was not inclined to move it, but he would take both arguments into consideration and think about it. Attorneys expect he'll make a decision in the next few days.


Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- A pretrial hearing began Wednesday morning in Columbia County in a lawsuit surrounding the deadly Marshall Square fire.

The trial will have to do with property damage involving the fire in the first lawsuit filed and the first case to be tried.

Defense asked for the trial date of Dec. 5 to be pushed back.

Charles Moye, the face of the lawsuit, testified on the stand Wednesday about why he thinks there should not be a delay in the trial.

This December a jury will hear the case about property damage and everything people lost in the fire.

Charles and Margaret Moye are the faces of this lawsuit. Both are in their 90s. Caryl Pender is their daughter. She says this trial could finally mean justice in their lifetime. She was with her parents the night of the fire and convinced them to get out.

In the year and a half since, she's watched them rebuild their lives with nothing but the clothes they had on when they left. She says now it's time for justice.

The case, filed last October, has been pending for a year, and they've tried just about everything to settle the case outside of court, but none of that has worked. So, starting Dec. 5, a jury will decide.