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New Orleans ‘Saintsmania’ drives judge to delay trial

Posted on Jan 28, 2010 in Courts, Local Issues, Sports

By Gwen Filosa, The Times-Picayune January 27, 2010, 5:47PM saints-fans-midfield.JPGBrett Duke / The Times-Picayune'The court takes judicial notice that Saintsmania permeates the city of New Orleans,' Judge Michael Bagneris said. This judge found in favor of the Who Dat Nation. On Wednesday, Orleans Parish Civil District Court Judge Michael Bagneris ordered a Feb. 1 jury trial delayed in light of the New Orleans Saints' historic trip to the 2010 Super Bowl. "The court takes judicial notice that Saintsmania permeates the city of New Orleans," Bagneris wrote in a one-paragraph ruling in an asbestos lawsuit, filed in 2005 by Dano Paul Becnel against Northrop Grumman Ship Systems, Inc., and about 20 others. Becnel was the widower of Diane Rome Becnel, who died Dec. 25, 2004, of mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos, the lawsuit says. Her father had worked for 32 years at the Avondale Shipyard - now known as Northrop Grumman Ship Systema, and the lawsuit blames the company for exposing the Rome family to "dangerously high levels of asbestos" through contact with Victorin Rome's clothes and other personal items. After filing the suit, Becnel died in a 2006 motorcycle accident, but his relatives are maintaining the lawsuit. Bagneris decided that the week before Drew Brees, Reggie Bush, Scott Fujita and teammates head for Miami for the biggest game in franchise history is not the best time to begin a trial that could last for two weeks. "Many prospective jurors for the parish of Orleans, several attorneys involved in this litigation and court personnel plan on traveling to the promised land -- the Super Bowl in Miami, Florida," wrote Bagneris, a 17-year veteran of the Civil District Court on Loyola Avenue. "The court recognizes that this pilgrimage enhances the chances of the Who Dat Nation to acquire the long sought-after Holy Grail: the Vince Lombardi trophy." The trial is expected to last at least ten days. Bagneris ruled on his own. There was no hearing or motion made to continue the trial. Reached at his office Wednesday afternoon, Bagneris said that he won't hold any jury trials next week because of the Saints making their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. "After the victory, everyone will be in a really good mood," Bagneris said. Asked if he expects the Saints to beat the Indianapolis Colts on Feb. 7, the judge nearly scoffed. "How could anyone doubt that, after watching such a divine intervention on Sunday," he said, referring to the Saints' win over the Minnesota Vikings. Bagneris set a new trial date for Feb. 9, exactly one week before Mardi Gras.

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