Lawsuit overseen by judge who was shot is dismissed

COLUMBUS — The wrongful-death lawsuit brought by a man who shot a judge overseeing the complaint has been dismissed, records show.

Nathaniel Richmond filed the lawsuit in April against the Jefferson Metropolitan Housing Authority following the death of his mother and a great-nephew in a 2015 house fire.

The lawsuit said the house had exposed electrical wires and missing and inoperable smoke alarms, among other claims.

Lawyers representing Richmond filed a motion dismissing the case Friday. A message was left with Richmond’s attorney Monday.

Authorities say Richmond shot Jefferson County Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. on Aug. 21 as the judge walked from his car to the courthouse in Steubenville.

The judge, who was carrying a gun, fired back. A probation officer then shot and killed Richmond. The judge is recovering.

The housing agency wanted Bruzzese to dismiss a claim for punitive damages filed by Richmond and another claim arguing critical evidence was lost when the house was torn down immediately after the fire.

The cause of the fire was undetermined, but “unattended cooking” couldn’t be ruled out as a source of the ignition, the state fire marshal said in a report closing the investigation.

Bruzzese had been scheduled to hear the housing agency’s request to dismiss certain claims on Monday.

One motive investigators are examining is whether Richmond mistakenly thought Bruzzese had already dismissed the lawsuit the day he shot him, said Jefferson County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin.

“We are investigating that angle, but have not been able to definitively confirm it,” Hanlin said in an email.

Judge John Solovan, a retired judge from Belmont County in eastern Ohio, will serve in Bruzzese’s place through Nov. 21.

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press