NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - An attorney for former Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club President Naaman Stewart calls a judge’s decision Friday a win even though the judge gave the woman alleging sexual harassment against Stewart more time to amend her lawsuit.
The judge found some of the woman’s serious claims are too late.
Stewart was in court for the hearing, but not Gemell Hulbert, who is making the accusations against him.
"I do think that it is very strange that it took three years for this lawsuit to come about. The law does not allow that and the judge found that today,” said James Williams, attorney for Stewart.
Hulbert recently filed a lawsuit against Stewart and the Zulu organization alleging sexual harassment, assault and battery and other illegal acts.
The alleged sexual harassment happened in June of 2015 in a women’s restroom in the Zulu club headquarters in New Orleans. The suit said Stewart demanded sexual favors from Hulbert and groped her.
Her attorney told the judge that her client is too afraid to show up at court.
"Yes, she is. With good reason,” said attorney Lena Hinton.
The judge found that Hulbert’s claims of assault and battery are proscribed because the alleged incident occurred more than three years ago. That means the claims are beyond the state’s statute of limitations.
"How can you have a continuing tort on a sexual assault?" Judge Christopher Bruno asked the plaintiff’s attorney in open court.
But the attorney said her client’s claims for defamation and invasion of privacy are not proscribed since those acts occurred after she filed her lawsuit. The judge said as far as the plaintiff’s other claims, which include intentional infliction of emotional distress, violations of employment discrimination law and conspiracy to commit such acts must be amended to more clearly state the dates on which those alleged acts occurred in order to prove they are not proscribed under the law.
Hulbert claims she was fired without notice after she complained the Zulu organization.
"Nobody stopped her from filing a lawsuit,” said the judge.
The judge gave the woman’s attorney 15 days to re-craft the lawsuit.
"She filed a lawsuit three years after the alleged incident, that’s not allowed under the law, it’s very suspicious to wait three years,” said Williams.
"I’m not going to comment on why she pled when she pled, but I can say that there has been a series of harassment to my client which justifies her reasoning for being afraid,” Hinton stated when asked about why her client waited years to take legal action.
Stewart’s attorney believes they will prevail in court even after the other side amends its lawsuit.
"Under Louisiana law, he has to give her time to try to correct the situation. We feel pretty confident that they will be unable to do that,” said Williams.