A judge in Santa Clara County Superior Court on Thursday tentatively ruled against a man's attempt to be included in a lawsuit as the biological father of teen suicide victim Audrie Pott.
Judge Joseph Huber, during a hearing Thursday morning in civil court in San Jose, informed Michael Lazarin that he had posted on Wednesday a provisional denial of Lazarin's plea to join a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Audrie's legal parents, Lawrence and Sheila Pott.
Lazarin said he plans to appeal the ruling.
The Potts are suing the parents of four juveniles, arguing they were liable for what happened to 15-year-old Audrie at a party at her friend's house in Saratoga on Sept. 2, 2012, an incident the couple says put her in an emotional state to kill herself.
While she was passed out in a bedroom after drinking alcohol, three male teens removed some of her clothes, drew on her body, took photos of her and sexually abused her, the Potts said in their lawsuit filed last year.
Also among the defendants are the parents of a teenage girl who the Potts allege watched what the boys did to Audrie in the bedroom and then lied about it to sheriff's deputies investigating her death.
Audrie, a student at Saratoga High School, hanged herself at her mother's Los Altos home on Sept. 10, 2012, and died in a hospital after being taken off life support two days later.
Lazarin, citing probate case law and evidence that he is Audrie's biological father, filed a lawsuit asking the court to consolidate his case with the Potts' wrongful death suit.
Lazarin decided to sue after learning that Lawrence and Sheila Pott claimed in court documents that they were Audrie's sole heirs. He argues that as her natural father, he is also a legal heir.
Huber, in a brief statement today, said he decided to deny Lazarin's claim for standing in the Potts' wrongful death lawsuit because a family court judge already ruled in 2005 against granting parental rights or paternity to Lazarin.
Huber permitted Lazarin to present a brief case and he cited two previous legal decisions similar to his case involving biological fathers.
The judge told Lazarin he would mail his final decision to him.
After the hearing, Lazarin, who came with his fiancée, parents and other relatives, said he was surprised and disappointed with the tentative ruling and said if it becomes final, he will appeal.
"I will go back and regroup and come back again," he said. "It's not right that we give judges the power to take our children away from us," he said.
Last fall, the three boys pleaded guilty in juvenile court to sexual assault. Two were sentenced to 30 days in juvenile hall, served on weekends, while a third was sentenced to 45 consecutive days.
The Potts' attorney, Robert Allard, argued against allowing Lazarin to join in their case, saying that Family Court Judge Dolores Carr declared in 2005 that Lazarin failed to prove he was her legal father because he did not take her into his home to live with him for the first two years of her life, as state law requires in paternity cases.
Carr ruled that Sheila and Lawrence Pott were Audrie's legal parents and denied Lazarin's claim of paternity.
Lazarin said his motive in seeking to join the Potts' case is not to be awarded money but to expose the truth about what led to Audrie's suicide.