Justices Reverse Wrongful Death Va. Tech Verdict

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RICHMOND (WRIC) – A final decision is made surrounding who's to blame for the Virginia Tech massacre.

The Virginia Supreme Court reverses a jury's wrongful death verdict against the state stemming from the killing of 32 students and faculty in 2007.

A 15 page decision was issued Thursday morning, where Virginia Supreme Court justices say the state had no duty to warn students of the potential acts of a lone student-gunman who initially shot two in a dormitory before killing 30 more people and then himself.

Among the victims were Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson. The two girls' families contended university officials had a duty to warn the students after the first shooting at 7:30 a.m.  And their failure to do so led the deaths of others two hours later in Norris Hall.

“The question was whether the University had a duty to warn university community as soon as it received word of dormitory shooting in morning,” says L. Steven Emmett, the attorney for the families.

Last year a Montgomery County Circuit Court jury awarded each family $4 million – an amount that was reduced to $100,000 each by a state cap on damages.

The state appealed the verdict, arguing it should be overturned because of court errors.

In the Virginia Supreme Court ruling, the justices agreed that under the facts of the case, there was quote “no duty for the commonwealth to warn students about the potential for criminal acts by third parties.”

Brian Gottstein a spokesman for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued a statement that says in part “While words cannot express the tremendous sympathy we have for the families who lost their loved ones in the Virginia Tech shootings – 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… Cho was the lone person responsible for this tragedy.”

To read the full report, click here.

Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond

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