Va. Supreme Court overturns wrongful death lawsuit against Virginia Tech

Posted at 10:42 AM, Oct 31, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-31 11:19:38-04

Richmond, Va. – The Virginia Supreme Court has overturned a multimillion-dollar jury award against the state and Virginia Tech related to the killing of two students on campus on April 16, 2007.

A jury in Montgomery County ruled in March 2012 that the state was negligent in the deaths of two students killed in the mass shooting, saying they were liable for not warning students after the first reports of shootings on campus.

On Thursday, state supreme court justices overturned that decision.

“In this case, we hold that even if there was a special relationship between the Commonwealth and students of Virginia Tech, under the facts of this case, there was no duty for the Commonwealth to warn students about the potential for criminal acts by third parties. Therefore, we will reverse the judgment of the circuit court,” an opinion published Thursday by Justice Cleo E. Powell stated.

Jurors awarded the families of both students $4 million each, but a judge reduced the award to the state cap of $100,000 for each family.

Lawrence Hincker, Associate Vice President for University Relations, released a statement on behalf of Virginia Tech stating:

“We are also very pleased that the Supreme Court recognized and corrected the errors of the lower court which resulted in a faulty jury verdict.  The court reversed an action based on incorrect interpretation of Virginia law.  These clearly were important legal principles that had to be and were clarified.”

He further said:

“The Court’s actions can never reverse the loss of lives nor the pain experienced by so many families and friends of victims of one person.  In the end, the cause of these heinous acts and continuing heartbreak was a troubled and angry young man with easy access to powerful killing weapons.”

Click here to read the court report.