[JURIST] A Virginia judge ruled Tuesday that lawsuits filed by two families whose children were killed in the 2007 Virginia Tech school shooting [Washington Post backgrounder; JURIST news archive] may proceed. Judge William Alexander of the Franklin County Circuit Court [official website] ruled [Roanoke Times Report] that the defendants, university President Charles Steger [university profile], Executive Vice President James Hyatt, and employees of the university's Cook Counseling Center [center website], are not immune from suit. Claims against the other defendants named in the lawsuit, including the New River Community Services Board [website], top university administrators, and the university itself, were dismissed. Alexander's ruling permits the suits to move forward with pre-trial discovery and possibly a trial.
The suit was filed [JURIST report] in April by the parents of Julie Pryde and Erin Peterson [Virginia Tech profiles], who were shot and killed by fellow student Seung-Hoi Cho [BBC profile]. In June 2008, 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. The Virginia Tech shooting left 33 people dead and wounded 25 in the deadliest school shooting in US history.