Judge allows lawsuit against city in rape kit case to move forward

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Lauri Ann Naylor says it’s been nearly 20 years since she was raped.

“I was in my own home," Naylor shares. "He broke into my house.

She’s one of over 12,000 victims whose rape kits went untested for several years.

Judge denies city's motion to dismiss rape kit backlog lawsuit

“I called twice and never heard another word for 14 years until the detectives are knocking on my door going, 'Oh we tested your kit finally,'" Naylor said.

Naylor says police also told her the suspect had been accused of raping a woman before her and one after her.

“It's hard to understand how this man could be hurting so many people," Naylor said. "And all because somebody dropped the ball on one test.”

She was one of 50 plaintiffs under the name “Janet Doe” behind a lawsuit against the city.

But Tuesday a judge ruled only the original three plaintiffs from when it was filed three years ago can be named in the suit.

“Whether it's limited to three or one, it really doesn't make any difference because this case is about the insult to the injury," said Attorney Daniel Lofton, who is representing plaintiffs in the lawsuit.

He wants to get to the bottom of what went wrong back in the '80s and '90s and how thousands of kits got backlogged.

“I’m reliving this nightmare just standing here," Naylor said.

Her attorney says it’s a complex and unprecedented case and also believes the city is purposely delaying it.

He requested the city release any internal investigations or audits from the past, actions that have resulted from those investigations and statistics relative to the backlog.

“To somehow be accused of not being transparent, I think is just a false statement," said Robert Meyers, an attorney for the city.

The judge decided to have a special master determine what evidence can be used going forward in the case and ruled the plaintiffs can call the person who oversaw the rape kits to testify — a step they say is in the right direction.

Attorneys believe it could be at least a month before their first hearing with the special master who’s been assigned to rule on the evidence.

The city attorneys did not want to comment after the hearing.