Nursing home owners ask for jury trial

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The owners of a New Orleans nursing home where 35 residents died after Hurricane Katrina have requested a jury trial. Salvador and Mabel Mangano said they would prefer that the case be heard by jurors rather than letting a judge decide.

The closely watched trial is now scheduled to begin April 16 in St. Francisville — about 120 miles northwest of the St. Bernard Parish facility. Attorney General Charles Foti said the couple should have taken steps to evacuate the facility before floodwaters engulfed the facility.

Defense lawyers countered that the nursing home had never flooded before Katrina and that the Manganos' hurricane plan — keeping frail residents in place with food, water and generators rather than risking their lives by moving them — was a responsible one. They add that no one would have died had levees held.