Delaware Asks for Postponement in Vaughn Lawsuit - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Update: Judge Grants Postponement in Vaughn Lawsuit Hearing

Posted: 11/16/2017 19:47:00 -05:00 Updated:
The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna. (WBOC/Chopper 16) The James T. Vaughn Correctional Center near Smyrna. (WBOC/Chopper 16)

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP/WBOC) - A judge has granted a request by lawyers for Delaware to delay a hearing in a federal lawsuit filed against the state in a deadly prison siege.

U.S. District Judge Richard Andrews granted the request Friday, the Wilmington News Journal reports. The hearing had been scheduled for Monday.

 Delaware attorneys on Thursday asked a judge to postpone a Monday hearing in which they were expected to argue for the dismissal of a federal lawsuit from the family of the correctional officer killed in February's inmate uprising at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center.

The letter filed by C. Malcolm Cochran IV, the lead lawyer representing former governors Jack Markell and Ruth Ann Minner, said "the parties were discussing an amendment to the complaint."

"We wish to proceed efficiently before the court, and so are jointly requesting a postponement of Monday's arguments on the motion to dismiss," he wrote.

A team of lawyers representing the family of deceased correctional officer Steven Floyd and a number of correctional staffers announced the lawsuit in April. It claims a dangerous environment was created at Vaughn after years of state officials placing a higher priority on costs than safety.

The lawsuit directly associates Markell and Minner with chronic understaffing at the prison. The lawsuit alleges staffing shortages created an environment that allowed inmates on Feb. 1 to seize control of a prison building and take hostages, including Floyd, who was found dead when law enforcement stormed the structure the next morning.

Lawyers representing the two former governors and numerous state officials named in the lawsuit motioned for the case to be dismissed, saying there was no constitutional right to workplace safety.

Monday's hearing was expected to hear arguments on the motion for dismissal.

Wilmington Attorney Thomas Neuberger, a member of the team of lawyers representing the Floyd family, said an announcement about a potential lawsuit from Patricia May, a counselor taken hostage during the riot, was initially scheduled for Thursday but had been cancelled.

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