Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

February 2, 2013

Federal jury returns Zaccari verdict

VALDOSTA — While a jury ruled Friday in federal court that former Valdosta State University President, Dr. Ronald M. Zaccari, should not be punished for the 2007 expulsion of Hayden Barnes, jurors determined that Barnes deserved $50,000 in recompense after the former-paramedic and activist was administratively withdrawn from the university for protesting the construction of the campus’ Oak Street parking decks.

“We feel vindicated,” said Barnes as he headed out of the court room with his wife and mother at his flanks. Zaccari broke away from hugs and handshakes long enough to decline to comment, but his lawyer, David Will, spoke on the defendant's behalf.

“The jury has spoken,” said Will. “It's been a difficult case for everyone involved and it's been going on for about 6 years. So hopefully now everyone can move on.”

Barnes and Zaccari had been sparring over the newly approved parking deck around April of 2007, though the former student had already been posting flyers around campus in protest of what he believed to be a misappropriation of $30 million. Barnes had lobbied for “greener” transportation solutions that would save money and wouldn't encourage students to drive more, but a series of e-mails and a political cartoon brought things to a head.

Perceiving Barnes’ drawing of the “Zaccari P Memorial” as a threat, drafted around the time of the  Virginia Tech shooting, a series of administrative meetings were held to determine if Barnes was indeed a threat to campus security.

The university's police chief could find nothing that would paint the young paramedic as a threat to others and several administrators shared the chief's opinion, but Barnes was still expelled at the end of the Spring 2007 semester. Notification of Barnes’

dismissal and two-day window to vacate was slipped under his dorm-room door.

“We're grateful the jury saw the expulsion in 2007 was not just wrong, but it damaged Hayden Barnes,” said Barnes' attorney Robert Corn-Revere. “The verdict provided Hayden with enough to move on.”

The jury determined that Barnes was indeed damaged by the 2007 dismissal and they confirmed that Zaccari used legal measures to remove Barnes from the university, but the question of whether or not a reasonable person would have taken the former VSU president's course of action is still to be determined.

The defense has until Feb. 21 to file a brief on why Zaccari qualifies for “qualified immunity” and why he should not cover the $50,000 remuneration of Barnes' lost wages and hardships that resulted from his expulsion form VSU. Barnes' legal team has 10 days to file a response to the defense's filed brief.

Federal Judge Hugh Lawson thanked both sides for a hard-fought, professional debate.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Cardiovascular Surgeons.jpg SGMC hires three cardiovascular surgeons

    South Georgia Medical Center has hired three cardiovascular surgeons, according to the hospital Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Moody firefighter 2.jpg Moody firefighter feeds burning passion for food

    He can bust down a burning door and save lives from a flaming inferno. If the kitchen survives, he might whip up some elegant blackened salmon.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • vpd accreditation.jpg VPD receives national reaccreditation

    The Valdosta Police Department received reaccreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and is ready to file for accreditation for the regional crime lab.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fussell Tire & Service to expand into new facility

    An existing business will open a new facility and expand its operations, according to the Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority Wednesday.

    July 31, 2014

  • Brown Johnson Solis Cardiovascular Surgeons.jpeg Cardiac, Vascular, Thoracic & Endovascular Surgeons Join South Georgia Medical Center

    The three surgeons will operate a full-time medical practice and professional office named the SGMC CardioVascular Institute.  The medical office, which is located in Suite 230 of the Professional Building which is adjacent to SGMC, will be open 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140729-Gas_Leak002.jpg Roadway closed after second gas line break

    For a second day in a row, workers from Valdosta’s Utilities Department struck a natural gas service line causing a leak that shut down a portion of Forrest Street, officials said.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • dump truck arrest photo.jpg Deputies nab stolen dump truck suspects

    The search for suspected dump truck thieves ended Tuesday afternoon with the arrest of two men in the same area officials searched extensively Monday.

    July 30, 2014 2 Photos

  • Bears sighted on Baytree

    A pair of bear sightings along Baytree Road this week could indicate a growing black bear population in Lowndes County.

    July 30, 2014

  • Johnson family files second suit against school

    Two months after filing a civil suit against Lowndes County Schools, Kendrick Johnson’s parents have filed a second suit against the school system which again claims that negligence and bullying led to their son’s death.

    July 30, 2014

  • Teachers Harvest

    With students and teachers returning to the classroom in the coming days, the need for school supplies is at the top of numerous priority lists. For teachers, this often means spending their money to ensure classrooms are fully stocked.

    July 30, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results