Lawsuits Filed Against School Involved in Fatal Shooting

Lawsuits Filed Against School Involved in Fatal Shooting

( – On November 30, Ethan Crumbley took a pistol out of his backpack at Oxford High School in Michigan, murdered four teens, and injured seven others. Police arrested the 15-year-old and his parents for their crimes. On December 9, a lawyer announced two lawsuits against the school by one of the injured students’ parents for $100 million in damages. The suit lists multiple parties, including the school district, superintendent, principle, school counselors, and other staff and faculty at the school.

The federal case filed in Detroit by Jeffrey and Brandi Franz named their daughters as the reason for the suit. Crumbley shot Riley Franz in the neck while her 14-year-old sister Bella watched in horror.

Alleged Failure By the School

Attorneys who regularly deal with these types of lawsuits think the case will be unsuccessful. Unfortunately, public school liability is difficult to prosecute in the state of Michigan. According to an AP News report, Attorney A. Vince Colella stated the plaintiff has to show the “administration or faculty members were grossly negligent” in protecting the injured and killed students from harm.

The morning of the shooting, guidance counselors met with the Crumbleys citing concerns about Ethan’s behavior. They suggested his parents remove him from the school. They refused and the school allowed him to remain on the grounds.

Although Michigan Defense Attorney Mike Kelly doesn’t believe anyone from the school will wind up in jail, they will likely acknowledge they should have done more to prevent the tragedy.

Signs of Disturbance

On November 29, the killer’s teacher reportedly noticed he was looking at ammunition on his phone during class, but he brushed away concerns by explaining the search was for a family hobby. The morning of the shooting, one of his teachers found violent drawings with phrases written on them like, “The thoughts won’t stop, help me.”

School officials instructed the parents to get their son some professional help within 48 hours or face Child Protective Services, but they did not force the parents to take their child home. Mr. and Mrs. Crumbley allegedly never told the school he had access to a gun.

Likely Outcome

Experts agree that the civil lawsuit against the school will probably not succeed. Michigan law generally protects schools against such litigation. Although employees of the school ultimately failed to protect the students in their care, their attempted actions leading up to the shooting don’t show a “substantial lack of concern.”

On the other hand, counselors chose to return him to class instead of placing him in an area away from other students. Would the civil suit see more success if filed against the shooter or his family?

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