VA Tech will settle with families

VA Tech will pay out $100,000 to each of the families of the victims of the shooting under a settlement proposed by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

I’m of mixed feelings on this; on the one hand I don’t really get what the families would have sued for, expecting the school to actually provide for the safety of every student is so foolish that I don’t even know where to begin.  On the flip side, I want Virginia Tech to admit that they’re liable in this situation, but not for the same reasons that a lot of people would think.

I think that schools and business should be held liable if they create a zone in which law-abiding citizens are deprived of their right to defend themself, I don’t think that VA Tech should be held liable for not being able to magically place a cop in every classroom.  Hence my mixed feelings.



  1. I totally agree that schools and businesses that deny people thier right to self defense should be held almost as accountable as the crazy who commits the attack. But I also believe that any government who denies it’s citizens the right to self defense, and threatens them with felonies for carrying the tools to defend themselves should also be held liable.

  2. While I agree with you that businesses and institutions should be held liable for disarming anyone who visits them, I put it on the same timeline as loosening restrictions on automatic weapons. No jury will currently uphold the former, and no legislature will pass, nor any current court force, the latter.

  3. I suspect that a big weakness on the part of VA Tech in its defense of a liability lawsuit will be for the victims in Norris Hall.

    Remember that the campus cops, upon finding the first two victims, assumed it was domestic and made no effort to investigate any alternatives. Granted, campus wide crazed killer isn’t likely to be anyone’s first guess, but they didn’t explore any possibilities after they learned the girl’s boyfriend (who went to Radford) was a gun owner. Needless to say, they were wrong.

    I have held a rather unpopular view that it was an instance of less than stellar police work. Few cops I know well would presume anything and be so sure in an initial assessment of the situation without someone being caught red handed that they wouldn’t have called for some kind of lock down or further campus-related investigation. (In fact, they didn’t even lock down the dorm until half an hour after they were on the scene and 45 minutes after the first shooting.)

    If they called for a campus-wide lock down earlier in the year when a jail escapee who was possibly armed was reported just in the area of the campus, it baffles my mind as to why they didn’t take some sort of precautionary measure when they had two confirmed homicides on campus.

    I don’t think it’s a situation where people would have a case by demanding that the university protect them at every minute. I think it’s reasonable fear that they would be found somewhat liable because word could have gotten out that there may be a gunman on campus if they hadn’t practically closed the case on the initial shooting victims.

  4. If it were just a campus being held liable for not having magic police officers everywhere, I’d understand the worry. That’s not really the case here, or in most other campuses, though : the place specifically disarmed those students, while claiming to promote health and safety.

    We’re not talking a group failing to act. Those harmed entered a contract with the school that disarmed them, in return for supposedly providing safety. It’s not the water company’s fault if you drink skanky well water, but if they trade you the mineral rights to well water and claim to supply decent stuff that ends up looking like piss, they’d be legally liable.

  5. Actually, I tend to agree with Bitter’s line of reasoning in that the absolutely lack of action after the first shootings could really be held against the university in terms of liability. It does seem to be a failure on the part of the University PD there.

  6. I would love to see the precedent set that they are responsible because they disarmed the people then failed to protect them. It may send a chill down the gun grabbers spine, not to mention all those with self imposed gun free zones if they suddenly become liable to anyone shot there. That would be nice. Sure, you can have your gun free zone, but you are responsible for anything that happens in it since you took the responsibility of disarming the people you pay the price if you don’t protect them. . . .

  7. I have to disagree with Bitter on this one. I attended Va Tech back when, lived in West AJ my sophomore year and attended classes in Norris Hall. It took me about 20 minutes to walk from my dorm to class; this is a big campus. You’re talking about “locking down” a town of 25,000 people. Have you ever heard of a town locking down because of a shooting in the town? Sure the police jumped to the obvious conclusion – boyfriend owns guns, boyfriend just spent the night and left about the time of the shooting, girlfriend and guy down the hall dead. Yep, I bet we have a mass shooter on the loose, just waiting to strike again!

    I think the police did what police do – mop up at a crime scene and gather evidence for whodunit. The liability comes from banning self defense on campus. Unless things have changed, they don’t allow pepper spray or anything else, much less guns, in the dorms.

  8. Agreed, In my opinion, any entity (government, school, business) that doesn’t allow individuals to protect themselves should be held 100% liable for any harm that comes to them. You can’t say “Nope you can’t protect yourself, that’s our job”, then when something “bad” happens say “Sorry! That was the workings of a lunatic”. You either protect me with real honest steps, not “feel-good” motions, or admit you can’t do it and let me handle it myself.

  9. At what point does your lock-down become kidnapping? Seriously. Unless you’re a material witness to a crime, the authorities can tell you to stay indoors, but they can’t in actuality, lock down the campus.

  10. I’m very familiar with the Tech campus, Mike, as it’s a family school. That said, they did do the best form of lock down that they could in the fall when there were reports of a possible threat near campus. On the day of the shootings, they knew they had at least one threat actually on campus.

    An ordered lock down doesn’t mean forcibly restraining each individual when it comes to reasonable action on the part of the University. In the minds of many jurors, merely issuing an alert to lock classrooms, closing dorm access through the standard electronic security systems, etc. A jury wouldn’t expect the school’s administrators to run around making sure every individual is secure in the event of such an order.

    The point is that because no such measures were taken – not even in the dormitory in which they had two victims for 30 minutes after they even arrived on the scene – and that’s enough to create some doubt in a jurors mind that could lead to even a partial liability judgment.

    And if you read my comment, Mike, you’ll see that I didn’t say crazed campus-wide gunman should have been their first thought. However, even if they had been correct that it was just a domestic matter, they had the report of fellow students that the first female victim had just been dropped off by her boyfriend who owned guns. In that case, that puts him on or near campus and willing to kill. Again, we’re back to relating it to actions taken in the fall when they shut the campus down for someone potentially dangerous in the area. Even the best lawyers would have a hard time explaining that difference in policy away.

    Most states/cases don’t require 100% liability. I’m sure most of you have heard of judgments that assign a percentage of the blame among many parties. All Tech has to lose is even a small percentage of liability (and we’re not even getting into the warning signs they didn’t act upon earlier – stalking accusations, scared profs, etc.) for each victim and they are out much, much more than what the state is willing to pony up right now.

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