May 18, 2006


Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK -- The mother of Natalee Holloway, the Alabama teen who vanished in Aruba, heard arguments in court for the first time Wednesday about whether the trial of her lawsuit over her daughter's disappearance should be held in New York.

Holloway, of Mountain Brook, Ala., was 18 when she went missing in May 2005 during a high school graduation trip to the Dutch Caribbean island with classmates. In February, her parents, Elizabeth Twitty, of Alabama, and Dave Holloway, of Mississippi, sued Joran van der Sloot, who was questioned about the teen's disappearance, and his father, Paulus.

The parents' lawsuit accused Joran van der Sloot, 18, of imprisoning and sexually assaulting their daughter and causing her disappearance. It also said his father had enabled his delinquent behavior, including the Dutch youth's underage drinking.

A lawyer for the van der Sloots, Joseph Tacopina, told the court the case should be dismissed or sent to Aruba. He argued that the parties, the witnesses, the physical evidence and the events that led to the lawsuit have no connection to New York.

"It would be impossible to try this case and defend this case in New York," Tacopina told state Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kapnick. "This state, you honor, has absolutely no interest in this matter."

A lawyer for Twitty and Holloway, Scott Balber, served the van der Sloots with the lawsuit when they arrived in New York from Holland for an interview with ABC News. In that interview, Joran van der Sloot denied involvement in Natalee Holloway's disappearance.

Balber told the judge the case should be heard in New York in part because the law gives "deference to the plaintiff's choice of forum." No site is perfect, Balber said, not New York, Aruba, Alabama or Mississippi.

"This is their last chance for justice, to find out what happened to their daughter," Balber told the judge. Balber said it was up to the defendants to prove that a New York trial would be so inconvenient and burdensome that it would not serve the interests of justice.

The arguments in Manhattan's state Supreme Court lasted about 25 minutes and basically reiterated points the lawyers had made previously in court papers. The judge said she would notify the lawyers when she reached a decision.

Twitty entered the courthouse minutes before the proceeding and said nothing to waiting news reporters. After the hearing, she and her lawyers left the courthouse immediately without commenting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I certainly hope it is heard. New York is the perfect state to let all Americans in every state learn the truth of their safety when traveling to vacation destinations not US governed. The FBI will disclose the real facts. I wouldn't expect any to come out of Aruba.