Group says why riot suit should stand
BY RANDY KREHBIEL World Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
1/20/13 at 8:10 AM
The statute of
limitations should not
apply, plaintiffs argue.
Attorneys for nearly 400 plaintiffs who are seeking damages
from the city and state for Tulsa's 1921 race riot compared the
event Tuesday to modern-day
terrorism and reiterated their assertion that the U.S. legal system of eight decades ago denied
their clients justice.
"The white community of Tulsa set out to kill and injure as
many black people as possible,"
said Michael Hausfeld. "In 82
years, who has been brought to
Hausfeld and Agnieszka Fryszman of the Washington law firm
Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld and
Toll, along with Harvard University law professor Charles Ogletree and Tulsa attorney Jim
Goodwin, appeared at a press
conference Tuesday with a number of the plaintiffs.
The attorneys discussed briefs
filed late Monday in response to
motions by the city and state to
dismiss the lawsuit and a motion
by the city to bar the written evidence of University of Rochester
psychiatrist Eric Caine.
The city and state have asked
U.S. Senior District Judge James
Ellison for summary judgment
against the plaintiffs, citing the
statute of limitations and, in the
case of the state, immunity under the 11th Amendment of the
The plaintiffs argue in response that the statute of limitations should not apply in this
case because the courts were
prejudiced against them immediately after the riot and because,
as the decades passed, information that could have been damaging to the defendants was lost,
destroyed or became less easily
Only with the publication of
the Tulsa Race Riot Commission's report in 2001, the plaintiffs say, did these facts become
sufficiently well-known for the
current claimants -- almost all
of whom were children or unborn in 1921 -- to realize that
they had a possible course of action.
The plaintiffs clarified their action against the state, saying
they are suing Gov. Brad Henry
in his official capacity. As such,
they argue, 11th Amendment immunity does not apply.
"This is a unique case," says
the plaintiffs' response. "Here,
evidence has been found; memories have sharpened; and witness
testimony has been uncovered."
The plaintiffs identify four reasons for rejecting the statute of
limitations defense: the "extraordinary circumstances" of racial
discrimination in 1920s Oklahoma; fraudulent concealment
based on an allegation that "defendants manipulated the post-riot grand jury"; plaintiffs' lack of
knowledge of the city and state's
"complicity" until publication of
the riot commission's report; and
a claim that the city "made explicit commitments to compensate plaintiffs."
Randy Krehbiel 581-8365