Today’s headlines on this week’s school shooting from The Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, reads: “Signs and warnings failed to prevent Freeman school shooting.” Given observations over recent years, it would not be surprising if a future headline reads: “Lawsuit filed on school shooting claims warning signs were missed.”
A wrongful death suit against former Chardon, Ohio, school district administrators stemming from a 2012 school shooting is set for trial in February of 2018. A civil trial where students were injured in a school shooting in Madison Township, Ohio, will also go to trial next year.
Whether warning signs were missed, if school officials dropped a ball, whether schools had reasonable security and safety measures in place, and if school-associated deaths or assaults with violent injuries could have been prevented will be evaluated case-by-case based upon the evidence in each specific case that may be taken to litigation. School officials can expect that not only higher-profile school shooting cases but also other school security incidents, such as violent assaults with injuries, may move from the schoolhouse to the courthouse as parents pursue litigation on school safety cases.
My forensic expert witness consulting includes analysis of a variety of types of school crime, violence and related school safety cases. Whether I am retained to evaluate cases by plaintiff or defense attorneys in a school safety lawsuit, the assessment of the case is undertaken with the understanding that the facts of each case are unique. One common thread, however, is that most of the cases involve allegations of failures of people and/or procedures, not failures of security hardware, products, and related equipment.
Have you given thought to how your school district would respond to school wrongful death, violent assault with injuries, or other school safety lawsuit claims against your school?
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