Survivors of mass shootings are suing Oxford Schools for $100 million.
The family of a teenager killed in a horrific school shooting in Oxford, Michigan, filed two lawsuits against the school district and numerous school workers on Thursday. The claims allege that the defendants’ activities previous to the shooting “created the hazard and heightened the likelihood of harm that their kids would be exposed to,” and demand $100 million in damages.
Facts of The Scenario
In the Oxford incident, four students were killed and several more were gravely injured. Ethan Crumbley, 15, faces murder and terrorism charges. Jennifer and James Crumbley, his parents, were charged with involuntary manslaughter after the prosecutor claimed they should have known their son was a danger to his school after purchasing a gun for him. All have entered not guilty pleas.
The school district, Oxford Community Schools, has also been scrutinised. Karen D. McDonald, the Oakland County prosecutor, described a terrifying chain of events that led to the shooting at a press conference last week.
A teacher discovered Ethan Crumbley looking for ammunition on his phone the day before the incident. Ms McDonald said the school was aware that he had recently visited a gun range with his mother. On the morning of the shooting, a teacher uncovered an ominous artwork by Mr Crumbley, which depicted a gun, a victim, and the words “The thoughts won’t stop.” “Please assist me.”
Mr Crumbley’s parents were summoned to a meeting at the school with their son right away. They were warned that if they didn’t get him into counselling within 48 hours, they would be reported to Children’s Protective Services. According to the prosecutor, they refused to take him home when he requested it.
Following that meeting, staff members elected to return Mr Crumbley to class after witnessing him behave normally in the guidance office, according to the school system. MrCrumbley’s bags were not inspected for a weapon, and later that day, after emerging from a bathroom, he began firing.
Gunfire erupted just after 1 p.m. According to camera evidence from inside the school, Ethan Crumbley went into a bathroom with his backpack, emerged with a gun, and began shooting down the hallway. According to authorities, the sophomore surrendered to sheriff’s officials on the scene in less than five minutes.
The complaint claims that the “horror of November 30, 2021” could have been avoided.
The students who lost their lives were:
Tate Myre, 16
Hana St. Juliana, 14
Madisyn Baldwin, 17
Justin Shilling, 17https://t.co/0KHlREUp8V
— CNN (@CNN) December 2, 2021
Briefs of The Cases
Jeffrey and Brandi Franz, the parents of Riley, a 17-year-old senior, and Bella, a 14-year-old freshman, are the plaintiffs. Riley received a gunshot wound to the neck in front of her sister.
The complaint, which was filed in federal court, seeks damages of $100 million. It asserts that the youths “have a well-established right to be free from danger” under the 14th Amendment and Michigan state law. According to the lawsuit, school personnel acted with “reckless disregard” for the victims’ safety.
According to the parents’ attorney, Geoffrey Fieger, a second lawsuit will be filed in state court. Mr Fieger represented survivors of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting and Flint water crisis victims.
“The individually named Defendants are each liable for making the student victims less safe through their acts,” the lawsuit claims. “If the Individual Defendants had not taken the activities they did, the Oxford High School students, and Plaintiffs, in particular, would have been safer.”
The threat was “clear and well-known,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that on November 16, two weeks before the school massacre, “several worried parents” contacted Wolf “with concerns regarding threats to pupils made on social media,” according to the lawsuit, which does not name the source of the claimed threats.
Crumbley’s attorney and school officials have been contacted by CNN for comment.
Throne and Wolf allegedly told parents and students that their children were safe at the high school and discouraged them from discussing or spreading the messages, according to the Franzes.
“On the same day, November 16, 2021, Wolf emailed parents, saying, ‘I know I’m being repetitious here, but there is absolutely no threat at the HS… huge assumptions were made based on a few social media posts, and the assumptions morphed into exaggerated rumours,'” according to court filings.
The correspondence between the school and parents have been requested by CNN, but they have not been reviewed.
James and Jennifer Crumbley, Crumbley’s parents, pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges on Saturday. Prosecutors claim that they purchased a pistol for their son days before the massacre and provided him unrestricted access to it, but a defence attorney refuted that claim at the arraignment.
The Franzes claim in their lawsuit that Crumbley was an “obvious and known” threat to fellow students, and that school officials had adequate evidence of that prior to the shooting.
Identical Cases and The Probable Outcome
Similar lawsuits have been filed in the aftermath of mass shootings in other states, with varying degrees of success.
After a shooter killed 17 people at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, the school system agreed to pay $25 million to the families of 52 people who were touched by the tragedy.
A complaint against the municipality of Newtown, Conn., and the town’s school district over the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School killings, which killed 26 people, was dismissed by a judge in 2018. The judge concluded that the school was shielded by government immunity.
Immunity may also be used as a defence by officials from the Oxford school district. Government agencies and personnel in Michigan are protected from civil liability under Michigan law.
However, immunity is not a “blanket protection,” according to Stephen Drew, a Michigan attorney who represented more than 100 Larry Nassar sexual assault victims in a civil claim against Michigan State University. Individuals can still be held accountable for gross negligence, which the law defines as “conduct so careless as to reflect a substantial lack of concern for whether a harm occurs.”
The Prevailing Shockwaves of The Trauma
The lawsuit is ill-timed, according to Robert McCann, executive director of The K-12 Alliance of Michigan, because many of the facts of the case are unknown.
“We have Geoff Fieger going out and essentially declaring a lawsuit against anybody and everyone, even the folks who were touched by this,” he said. “He’s suing instructors, many of whom have been affected by this circumstance,” says the source.
According to McCann, the district has remained relatively silent on many of the issues circulating because it is still gathering evidence and addressing student suffering.
“Whatever they’re doing now, they’re trying to help the community,” he explained.
Meanwhile, if found guilty, Ethan Crumbley may spend the rest of his life in prison. James and Jennifer Crumbley, his parents, have been charged with involuntary manslaughter for their actions and inactions during the shooting. Each charge of involuntary manslaughter carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison if convicted.