Ralph Yarl, Civil Lawsuit, Andrew Lester

Ralph Yarl’s Family Files Civil Lawsuit Against Andrew Lester & Local Home Owners Association

The complaint, filed by Yarl’s mother, Cleo Nagbe, claims that 84-year-old Andrew Lester was negligent when he shot Yarl without a warning.

The family of Ralph Yarl is suing the homeowner who allegedly shot him in April 2023, a move the family’s attorney, Lee Merritt, described as designed to put pressure on the criminal trial scheduled for October. The complaint, filed by Yarl’s mother, Cleo Nagbe, claims that 84-year-old Andrew Lester was negligent when he shot Yarl without warning. It also describes the pain and suffering of Yarl and the permanent injuries he sustained as a result of the shooting. 

As Fox 59 reported, Merritt believes the civil lawsuit will “give the family a chance to be in the driver’s seat in pursuing justice for Ralph.” In a statement to The Associated Press, Merritt further detailed the specifics of the suit. “The suit is based on what he has said,” Merritt said. “If he’s saying, ‘I mistakenly thought this person was a robber,’ we’re saying that’s negligence. You weren’t paying close enough attention. Everybody who rings your doorbell can’t be a robber.”

Merritt also described Yarl’s growing frustration with being identified as the person who was shot in 2023, telling Fox 59 that despite being “uniquely resilient” after the shooting, “his resiliency has kind of grown into some impatience with being the person who was shot a year ago. He doesn’t want to be that person,” Merritt continued. “He wants to be an amazing band player, a good friend, a student, a rising college student.”

As reported by Fox 4, the lawsuit also includes the Highland Acres Homes Association, the HOA in the neighborhood where Yarl was allegedly shot. The lawsuit argues that although the association already had a policy in place that should have prevented the event from happening, they “should have been aware” of Lester’s “access to dangerous weapons and racial animus.”

Yarl’s shooting prompted outrage and a national discussion about gun control, eliciting responses from celebrities, politicians, and activists. On April 29, Yarl’s mother released the following statement: “Today, on behalf of my son Ralph Yarl, we stand before you to announce a significant step towards justice and accountability. The attorney, Lee Merritt, representing Ralph, has taken the necessary action by filing a civil case in Clay County Court. This incident not only shattered our family but also exposed a critical gap in our societal fabric, where the safety of our children is jeopardized by reckless actions.”

The statement continued, “Including the homeowner’s association (HOA) in this lawsuit underscores the importance of collective responsibility in safeguarding our communities. Their knowledge of a potentially dangerous individual in the neighborhood without taking adequate precautions is unacceptable. This case is not just about seeking justice for Ralph but about advocating for systemic changes that prioritize the safety and well-being of all children.”

The statement concludes, “We refuse to let Ralph’s suffering be in vain. His ordeal must serve as a wake-up call for our nation to prioritize child safety and enact meaningful reforms to protect our youth from gun violence. We hope this civil suit will ignite a nationwide movement toward creating safer environments for our children to thrive without fear.”