NYC judge dismisses lawsuit in Holloway’s Aruba disappearance

Published 6:19 pm Friday, August 4, 2006

A judge on Thursday tossed out a lawsuit filed against a Dutch teenager by the parents of a Mountain Brook teen who vanished in Aruba, saying it shouldn’t have been filed in Manhattan.

The parents of Natalee Holloway, a Clinton, Miss., native, alleged in the suit in February that Joran van der Sloot imprisoned and sexually assaulted their daughter and was responsible for her mysterious disappearance last year on the Dutch Caribbean island.

In a 10-page decision, state Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kapnick cited an earlier ruling that found local taxpayers should not have to foot the bill for a complex case “when their interest in the suit … is so ephemeral.”

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The suit, which sought unspecified damages, had claimed that if the case were filed in Aruba it would re-ignite a media frenzy that could interfere with the ongoing investigation, an argument rejected by the judge.

“It appears to this court that wherever this civil case proceeds there will be an enormous amount of media attention and press coverage, both in Aruba, New York and elsewhere,” she wrote.

A telephone call to an attorney for the parents — Elizabeth Ann Twitty, of Alabama, and Dave Edward Holloway, of Mississippi — was not immediately returned Thursday.

Van der Sloot, who just finished his first year of college in Holland, “was elated” by news of the decision, said his attorney Joseph Tacopina.

“We were never afraid of the facts in this case,” the lawyer said. “He did nothing to this girl. … He’s trying to get on with his life.”

Natalee Holloway, then 18, was last seen May 30, 2005, leaving a bar on Aruba with van der Sloot, who also was 18. He and two friends, brothers Deepak Kalpoe, 21, and Satish Kalpoe, 18, were arrested a few days later on suspicion of involvement in her disappearance.

Van der Sloot admitted he was with Holloway but denied any wrongdoing, and all three suspects were released. Holloway, who was visiting the island with high school classmates, hasn’t been found, and no one has been charged in her disappearance.

The Dutch teen and his father were served with a summons last year while in New York to give television interviews. In those interviews, the teen insisted the night ended when he left Holloway alone on a beach.

“She wanted to stay there the whole night,” he said. “I told her no, I had to go.”

The van der Sloots’ attorneys, Tacopina and Rosemarie Arnold, said in court papers that their clients were “sympathetic to the fact the plaintiffs do not know the present whereabouts of their daughter.”

However, they added, “neither the plaintiffs’ hardship nor the vast media attention” this case has attracted “should serve to prevent the proper dismissal of this case.”