Trials & Litigation

Jury Awards $4M Each to Families of Two Slain Va. Tech Students; Awards Likely to Be Capped at $100K


Siding with the families of two Virginia Tech students slain in a 2007 campus massacre by another student that left 33 individuals dead, a state-court jury in Christianburg today awarded $4 million to each of the families in a duty-to-warn case.

The state, which is the only defendant, immediately filed a motion to reduce the awards, which are likely, under state law, to be capped at $100,000 each, the Associated Press reports.

The suit by the parents of Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde contended that the deaths of 31 of the victims could have been avoided if Virginia Tech officials had acted more quickly to alert the college community after two other students were slain that morning in a campus dormitory.

Virginia Tech argued that the record-breaking shooting was not foreseeable and said the school had acted reasonably under the circumstances.

“The university’s contention has been all along …’We did everything we could do,’ ” said attorney Robert T. Hall, who represented the parents. “Obviously the jury didn’t buy that.”

The jury deliberated less than four hours before reaching verdict.

Related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Judge OKs Duty-to-Warn Suits in Va. Tech Shootings, Nixes Immunity Claim”

ABAJournal.com: “Va. Tech Gets Max $55K Fine for Late Massacre Day Warning; Much More Deserved, Official Says”

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