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Families of Virginia Tech shooting victims file lawsuit

[JURIST] Two families whose children were killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech school shooting [Washington Post backgrounder] filed separate lawsuits [Pryde complaint, PDF; Peterson complaint, PDF] Thursday in the Circuit Court of Fairfax County, asking for $10 million in compensatory damages. The parents of Julie Pryde and Erin Peterson [Virginia Tech profiles], who were shot and killed by fellow student Seung-Hoi Cho [BBC profile], filed suit against the Commonwealth of Virginia, Virginia Tech [university website], the university's Cook Counseling Center [website], top university officials, and local counseling center New River Valley Community Services [website] for negligence resulting the death of the two victims. The complaint alleges that Virginia Tech, and in the alternative, the Commonwealth of Virginia, were "deliberately indifferent" to the safety needs of the students in failing to have proper procedures in place to safeguard students. It further alleges that top university officials were negligent in failing to "issue a full, fair, and accurate warning" about the threat to students from Cho and that the psychiatric institutions did not follow procedures to confine him to a mental institution despite multiple warning signs. The suit was filed on the two-year anniversary of the shooting, the deadline under the statute of limitations.

The Virginia Tech shooting left 33 people dead and wounded 25 in the deadliest school shooting in US history. In June, a Virginia judge approved [JURIST report] an $11 million settlement with the families of 24 people who had been killed in the shooting. The settlement awarded each family $100,000 plus medical expenses and provides for meetings with Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and university and police officials. The Pryde and Peterson families did not participate in the settlement agreement.

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