March 26, 2013
New witnesses have come forward in the Morgan Harrington case, according to amendments to a civil lawsuit filed by Harrington's parents against an events services provider.
Harrington vanished from a Metallica concert at the John Paul Jones Arena in October 2009. Her body was found three months later on a farm in southern Albemarle County.
Harrington's parents are using new witness accounts as part of the lawsuit to say RMC Events, the managers of the concert, were negligent and contributed to their daughter's abduction and death.
"There's not just one person who came forward, but just an opportunity to further develop the case," said Lee Livingston, the Harringtons' lawyer.
The amendments to the $3.9 million lawsuit claim someone saw Harrington in the bathroom of JPJ with a gash on her face. The lawsuit claims the bystander assisted her and did not smell alcohol, but the person described Harrington as being disoriented.
Harrington eventually stepped outside of the arena during the concert and was denied re-entry.
"There are occasions when people have the means to act and they should act," Livingston said.
Another claim in the lawsuit says RMC Events arranged for an intoxicated off-duty police officer from Fairfax County to get into a taxi.
"Once you take on that duty voluntarily, you have a duty to do it correctly, or non-negligently. And they had taken on that duty according to the pleading," said Yvonne Griffin, a partner with law firm Tucker Griffin Barnes P.C.
Griffin, who has no connection to the case, says the burden of proof is on the Harringtons. She says the plaintiffs must not only prove that RMC Events was negligent, but that the company's negligence led to Harrington's death.
Police have said Harrington was picked up on the Copeley Road bridge, which is not on the property of the John Paul Jones Arena.
"The question comes up, of course, is a property owner responsible for the criminal acts of a third party," Griffin said.
The Harringtons and their lawyers have a long road ahead in the lawsuit. Griffin estimates that a jury won't even hear the case for at least a year and a half. But the Harringtons said they don't want anyone to forget their daughter.
"It's very easy for these stories to die and, along with it, the chance for recovery of the individual [who killed Morgan]," Dan Harrington, Morgan's father, said.
RMC Events has not replied to the Newsplex's request for comment.
Virginia State Police, who are handling the investigation, would also not comment on the lawsuit, but did say the civil case and criminal case are completely separate.