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Johnson’s amended suit against ABC, agency personnel to proceed

Judge denies defense motion to dismiss suit

Fourth-year College student Martese Johnson’s civil lawsuit against the Virginia ABC, its director and three of its agents will continue in U.S. District Court after Judge Glen E. Conrad denied a motion by the defense to strike Johnson’s amended suit May 13.

The amended $3 million suit filed Feb. 1 added a bystander liability claim against ABC special agent John Cielakie and language alleging that agents Jared Miller, Thomas Custer and Cielakie could not hear the “cordial conversation” between Johnson and the owner of Trinity Irish Pub immediately before Johnson’s arrest on March 18, 2015.

Johnson was arrested and charged with public intoxication and obstruction of justice, although the Commonwealth’s Attorney declined to prosecute the case and the Charlottesville General District Court dismissed the charges.

Johnson’s suit includes claims against the agents for false arrest, excessive force, gross negligence, assault and battery.

The defense filed a motion Feb. 11 to strike the suit, arguing in a memorandum the “First Amended Complaint vastly exceeds that scope, changing the very substance of the original Complaint.”

The defense said in their memorandum that Johnson made at least 60 changes to the suit.

“This Court only granted leave to amend to allow the plaintiff to change Count IV from a simple negligence to gross negligence claim, and, thus, any amendment beyond that scope should be stricken,” the memorandum reads.

By denying the defense’s motion, Conrad will allow Johnson’s amended suit to proceed.

A jury trial is scheduled to begin Oct. 3.


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