"But with the disclosure of the commission's draft report, it is now impossible not to include the mayor as a defendant," he said. "The
commission has clearly concluded that (Goode) knew more than he said he knew."
The suit by Ward, formerly known as Birdie Africa, and his father, Andino R. Ward, was filed in Common Pleas Court in July. Named as defendants at that time were the City of Philadelphia, former Managing Director Leo A. Brooks, former Police Commissioner Gregore J. Sambor and Fire Commissioner William C. Richmond.
The suit accused city officials of negligence in not rescuing Michael Ward, then 13, from MOVE and of using "excessive force" in attacking the MOVE house May 13. Michael's mother, Rhonda Harris Africa, was one of 11 people who died in the blaze.
Judge Murray Goldman has been assigned to hear the case. No date has been set for the trial.
In its draft report, a copy of which was published in The Inquirer Sunday, the MOVE commission concluded that Goode and his top aides displayed ''reckless disregard for life and property" and "clearly risked the lives" of five MOVE children in planning and executing the siege.
Shrager said yesterday that he believed the commission's findings were very similar to the allegations made in Ward's complaint against the city.
"What we will now have here is an opportunity to have the MOVE tragedy put in front of a Philadelphia jury - with the mayor, the police commissioner, the managing director and all the others - and have the jury decide legally who is to blame," he said.
Carl Oxholm, deputy city solicitor in charge of the numerous MOVE suits against the city, said yesterday that the inclusion of Goode didn't surprise him.
"Shrager has been suggesting all along that Goode would be named, and I guess (the MOVE commission conclusions) are as good an excuse as any," he said.
As part of their legal strategy, city attorneys have succeeded in having Ramona Africa, the only other survivor of the MOVE fire, and Louise James, owner of the MOVE house and a former MOVE member herself, included as defendants in the case. Oxholm said it is part of the city's effort to hold them "liable for what happened."
Common Pleas Court Judge Alfred J. DiBona ruled in December that Africa - who had opposed the city's effort - had to be included anyway. James has never responded to the court about being joined as a defendant, attorneys said.