LEWISTON — The lawyer for the father of a 13-year-old boy who drowned on a school field trip made a last-ditch appeal Thursday for a judge to reconsider his decision to dismiss a federal lawsuit against the city of Lewiston and the Lewiston School Department.

Verne Paradie of Lewiston, the lawyer for Ali Abdisamad, filed a motion asking U.S. District Court Judge Lance Walker in Bangor to allow the case to move forward so he can gather evidence and depose witnesses to discover the underlying facts of the case.

Without that ability, Paradie said, there is an “extreme unlikelihood” Abdisamad can come up with the necessary facts to meet the tough standard laid out by Walker for moving forward with the case filed in April.

U.S. District Judge Lance Walker

Paradie said if Walker does not reconsider his ruling, he will appeal the dismissal judgment to the First Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, where he believes he may meet with more success.

The case arose out of the June 12, 2018, drowning of Rayan Issa, a seventh-grade student in Lewiston who died during a school field trip to Range Pond State Park in Poland.

In his ruling Tuesday, Walker called it “beyond tragic” that the boy drowned, but insisted that for the lawsuit to move ahead, it had to reveal “conscience-shocking conduct” on the part of the school employees or chaperones.

Even if they failed to follow established rules and protocols, the judge said, the case “would tend to demonstrate, at most, negligence,” which is not the standard for a federal court to hear the claim.

Walker said there is nothing in the complaint filed by Paradie that reaches the required standard.

Paradie’s request for reconsideration said that without the chance to question witnesses and gather evidence, “it would seem nearly impossible” to meet the standard outlined by Walker’s decision.

Paradie said he gave a lot of thought to whether it would be possible to make a viable case given the legal obstacles and ultimately decided a recent appellate decision in a case “exactly like this one” opened the door for him.

“I truly thought we had a viable cause of action,” he said, and he still hopes Walker or the appellate court will eventually agree.

Claiming the city and state failed to follow safety protocols, the lawsuit by the Lewiston father sought to hold them financially responsible for medical and funeral expenses, as well as for the family’s suffering.

Walker dismissed the case against the state soon after the lawsuit was filed because state law gave Maine immunity under the circumstances.

Paradie said if he cannot convince federal courts to hear the case, he will likely try to bring a lawsuit in state court.


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