Of all the proposals following the horrific Newtown school shooting, this has to be the worst: a Connecticut attorney has just filed legal papers seeking to recover $100 million from the State Board of Education on behalf of a 6-year-old survivor.
New Haven, CT attorney Irv Pinsky filed a claim last week with state Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr., whose office must give permission before a lawsuit can be filed against the state, according to the Hartford Courant. (Good luck with that.)
The child, who has not been named to protect her privacy, heard “cursing, screaming, and shooting” over the school intercom when the gunman opened fire, according to the claim. (I am not repeating the shooter’s name here, to minimize the fame that comes with violent rampages.) She suffered “emotional and psychological trauma and injury, the nature and extent of which are yet to be determined,” the claim said.
Don’t get me wrong, I am generally in favor of tort claims when they are meritorious. Trial lawyers and financial judgments against companies that put dangerous products into the marketplace are one of the reasons we live in a very safe country. When I am strapping myself into a zip line in, say, Nicaragua, I think, “does this country have tort liability?” On behalf of clients I have brought many personal injury and wrongful death cases. But I would not have taken this one.
To sue a school where the women in charge heroically rushed the shooter, paying with their lives, feels wrong-headed, even callous. In legal parlance, a deranged gunman bursting in and murdering children with an assault weapon was not foreseeable. Even in a country with regular mass shootings, this was a shock to us all. Had there been an armed guard, the gunman, with the element of surprise, could have easily shot him first and then proceeded. What more could the school have done? Become a bulletproof fortress with soldiers stationed shoulder-to-shoulder around the perimeter?
I hope the state of Connecticut rejects this claim, and that other lawyers turn down similar cases. Tougher gun laws and mental health reform are the obvious solutions here, not lawsuits against schools.
The opinions expressed here represent my own and not necessarily those of Avvo.com.