Judge denies townhouse association's request to be removed from Nunn lawsuit

gkocher1@herald-leader.comJanuary 30, 2013 

A judge denied a motion Wednesday to dismiss the Opera House Square Townhouse Association from a lawsuit filed by the estate of Amanda Ross, who was gunned down outside her home in September 2009.

Steve Nunn, 60, a former state legislator and the son of former Gov. Louie B. Nunn, pleaded guilty to murder in June 2011 for shooting and killing Ross, 29, outside her Lexington townhouse after the two ended their engagement.

Diana M. Ross, the mother and personal representative of the estate of Amanda Ross, has sued the gated community, saying it allowed Steve Nunn access after Amanda Ross told the association board that she had an active emergency protective order against him.

Attorneys for Opera House Square had sought a summary judgment dismissing the residential community from the wrongful-death suit. Opera House Square said it was not negligent because the murder was not foreseeable. And Opera House Square said it took reasonable steps to accommodate a request from Amanda Ross to improve security.

Angela Lucchese, the attorney for Opera House Square, said the Ross estate and Diana Ross must prove how Nunn got onto the premises in order to argue negligence. "She has not done that," Lucchese said.

Opera House Square also maintained that Diana Ross cannot support her allegations of negligence based on inadequate lighting in the parking lot where the shooting occurred.

Lucy Pett, an attorney for the Ross estate, argued that the motion for summary judgment must be denied because there are genuine issues of fact concerning the gated community's actions in response to Amanda Ross's request to change the gate code, and whether the lighting was adequate or properly functioning. There also are questions about how Nunn got onto the premises, Pett said.

In a written response to questions filed in the court documents, Nunn said he entered Opera House Square "by using a gate key to open the Bruce Street pedestrian gate. While I was living with Amanda Ross, she made a copy of the pedestrian gate key for my use, as well as a post office key."

Nunn said he returned the "clicker" used to open the Short Street automobile gate to Opera House Square after his relationship with Amanda Ross had ended. And he said, "I never thought about what the gate (punch) code was" after the relationship ended.

Pett said Nunn's statements are questionable. "Simply because he says it doesn't make it true," Pett said.

The Ross estate is seeking an undetermined amount for injuries and damages, and punitive damages.

Judge James Ishmael denied the Opera House motion. "At this point, the court does think there are issues of fact that preclude summary judgment," Ishmael said.

Parties in the suit will meet in mediation Thursday for a possible voluntary settlement. If no settlement is reached, the case will proceed to trial, scheduled for Aug. 12.

Nunn, who is serving life in prison, was found liable last year in the civil lawsuit.

Nunn's daughter, Mary Elizabeth Nunn of Glasgow, also is a defendant in the suit. The claims against the daughter stem from accusations that Steve Nunn illegally transferred property in Glasgow to her to avoid having the Ross family claim it as damages in a civil suit.

Greg Kocher: (859) 231-3305. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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