Family of teen who died after party files 2 suits against homeowners

$1.75 million being sought in Arundel student's death

October 13, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

The family of a Pasadena teenager filed lawsuits yesterday against two Anne Arundel County homeowners for $1.75 million, seeking compensation for the Northeast High School student's death after a fight outside a party at the couple's house.

The claims, filed in lawsuits on behalf of Noah Jamahl Jones' mother, Robin Jones, and his aunt, Phyllis Jones, with whom he had been living, say that Steve and Evelyn Steinbach of the 700 block of 205th St. in Pasadena failed to "exercise control and supervision of the social gathering taking place on their property."

The women's attorney, Rene Swafford, said she expected the Steinbachs to be served with court papers this week.

Steve Steinbach declined to comment yesterday on the proceedings.

"These parents have a duty to monitor what transpires on their property," said Swafford, who, in preparing the lawsuits, interviewed a number of the Steinbachs' neighbors and their teenage guests. According to Swafford, only the Steinbachs' son was at home at the time of the party.

The lawsuits - one for wrongful death and the other for Jamahl Jones' pain and suffering - come as a county grand jury and federal civil rights officials investigate whether the teen's death after a fight between white and black youths was a hate crime.

Robin and Phyllis Jones contend, among other things, that negligence on the part of the Steinbachs contributed to the 17-year-old's death and that he "sustained severe conscious pain and suffering" between the time he was severely injured and the time he died five hours later.

"Someone has to pay for this," said Robin Jones in an e-mail yesterday.

Robin Jones, who at times has asked whether her son was the victim of a hate crime, said that yesterday's legal actions are not about money but about seeking peace and justice for her family.

The civil suits stem from an incident on the night of July 24, when Jones and two friends went to the Steinbach home. What happened next has for months been a point of contention between some in the local black community, those at the party and those living in Jones' former Green Haven neighborhood.

Although many facts are in dispute, all involved agree that the trio arrived at the party and quickly became involved in a brawl with a group of young men. Police records show that Jones and his friends were badly beaten, and that Jones later succumbed to injuries he sustained.

Sun staff writer Andrea F. Siegel contributed to this article.

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