Va. Supreme Court Overturns Va. Tech Wrongful Death Verdict

The jury verdict in the wrongful-death suit filed against the state by the families of two students who were killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech mass shooting was overturned by the Virginia Supreme Court.

The decision was released Thursday. In it, the court wrote:

“…even if there was a special relationship between the Commonwealth and students of Virginia Tech, under the facts of this case, there was no duty for the Commonwealth to warn students about the potential for criminal acts by third parties.”

Last year a jury awarded the parents of Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson $4 million each, having found Virginia negligent in their deaths. Pryde and Peterson were two of 32 people killed by Seung-Hui Cho before her turned the gun on himself.

In response to the decision the VTV Family Outreach Foundation released the following statement:

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by today’s ruling. We continue to share their grief, and open our arms and hearts to them.

“We draw strength knowing that the 32 innocent lives tragically lost were not in vain. Improvements to how colleges and universities across the country, post April 16, 2007, handle threat assessment and emergency response spurred by the tragedy have fundamentally improved campus safety. This is their living legacy.

“Federal authorities have made it clear that existing law, the Jeanne Clery Act, required a more timely notice in the event of a very serious crime, such as when an unknown shooting suspect remains at-large. Additional requirements, championed by the VTV families and survivors, have expanded these protections even further. Institutions, including Virginia Tech, now often have mass notifications out to their entire campus within minutes rather than hours after any serious incident occurs.

“More, however, remains to be done, and the VTV Family Outreach Foundation is working with other victims, advocates, experts, students, professional organizations, as well as colleges and universities to make campuses safer.”

Read the full story.

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