State Supreme Court Reverses VT Wrongful Death Ruling - WSET.com - ABC13

State Supreme Court Reverses Virginia Tech Wrongful Death Ruling

Posted:

Update 4: 30 p.m.: 

Blacksburg, VA - A major decision was announced Thursday regarding the lawsuit filed against Virginia Tech over the 2007 mass shooting.

The state Supreme Court has reversed a jury's wrongful death ruling against the school, saying the state had no duty to warn students after the first shooting.

The decision came 19 months after a Montgomery County jury decided the school was negligent, awarding the plaintiff's families $4 million each.

At that time the parents of victims Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson said wasn't about the money as much as it was about the accountability.

The $4 million was well above the state cap of $100,000, which is what would have been awarded had the decision stood.

The jury decided the school should have issued a warning to the campus after the first two murder victims were found; well before the attack on Norris Hall.

The upper court determined there was no duty by the Commonwealth to warn of criminal behavior of a third party.

Regardless, university officials say this decision, in no way, can be considered a victory.

"The reality is there is no joy. As a result of this there are still 32 family members who still feel the pain everyday as we do. So, it's over in this regard but there is no joy," said university spokesman Larry Hincker.

ABC 13 wasn't able to track down the families Thursday. But a Reuter's report quotes an attorney representing the families as saying, "We're very disappointed with the outcome."

This decision can be appealed, but there is no word right now on if, or when, that will happen.


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Blacksburg, VA – The state Supreme Court has reversed a jury's wrongful death ruling against Virginia Tech after the 2007 mass shootings.

The ruling came down Thursday morning. The justices say the state had no duty to warn students following the first shooting on April 16, 2007.

That first shooting happened at a dorm.

The gunman later headed to Norris Hall, killing 30 more people before killing himself.

March of last year, a jury in Montgomery County found the state was negligent on that day by not sending out a warning to students.

The wrongful death lawsuit was brought by the families of two students who were killed Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde.

The jury had awarded $4 million to each family. But a judge reduced that to the state cap of $100,000 per family.

Here is the statement released by Charles W. Steger, president of Virginia Tech:

"I very much appreciate the wise counsel from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Peter Messitt, Mike Melis, Wes Russell, and all the professionals in the Office of the Virginia Attorney General. Their attention to detail throughout the case - indeed throughout the lengthy fallout from this wrenching tragedy - and their belief in the university's employees is gratifying and very much appreciated. I will not forget their support and professionalism. Attorney General Cuccinelli was personally engaged, for which I will be forever grateful."

Here is the Statement from Director of Communication Brian Gottstein from the Office of the Attorney General:

"While words cannot express the tremendous sympathy we have for the families who lost their loved ones in the Virginia Tech shootings of 2007 -- including the Prides and the Petersons -- the Virginia Supreme Court has found what we have said all along to be true: The commonwealth and its officials at Virginia Tech were not negligent on April 16, 2007. Cho was the lone person responsible for this tragedy."

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