Seder gets an unexpected Eliyahu!

November 28, 2009 by J-Wire Staff
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A Seder organised by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies at Sydney Girls High school had an unexpected visitor when a curious local resident investigating the activity, refused security personnel’s request to leave and was held handcuffed by them until police arrived, resulting in the visitor suing the then NSWJBD president and the 22 others present as well as the security company. Sydney’s Supreme Court this week heard Justice Robert Hulme’s decision denying 68-yr-old pensioner Evangelous Rouvinetis’s  request for a trial by jury on the evidence so far presented in his case against former president of the NSWJBD, David Knoll and 22 others.  The request was based on the presence at the Seder of a Supreme Court judge whom it is alleged the sole director and shareholder of the security company which is the second defendant.

The court heard that Rouvinetis claims he was not unknown to the school and often visited it and had talked with the principal. In 2008, out for an evening stroll, he spotted an open door and, concerned about the school’s security,  decided to investigate. Inside the school the NSWJBD was holding a special Seder. The Community Security Group members confronted the pensioner asking him to leave. When he tried to move past them, he was brought to the ground and restrained hand-cuffed for 25 minutes awaiting the arrival of police. He was released following their arrival.

Rouvinetas is suing on the basis that the 23 defendants “allowed or permitted excessive force by the second defendant [security] to be used after it became aware that the Plaintiff represented no threat” as well as false imprisonment. The judge ruled any claim of false imprisonment or negligence had no bearing as the Board members were not liable for Security’s actions. He claimed false imprisonment citing that security were not instructed to release him after the school’s principal Dr Varady had let it be known that Rouvinetis was known to the school and did not present a risk.

His request for a trial by jury has been refused, but the judgement has permitted the pensioner to file an amended statement.

A previous case in which Rouvenitis sought to sue the school’s principal, the Department of Education and the State of NSW was dismissed in March this year.

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff said the Board of Deputies could not comment on the case “as the matter is still before the courts”.

Rouvenites has until December 18 to file an amended statement.

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