The Sandy Hook lawsuits begin

While sad, I’ve no doubt that this was entirely predictable. In the wake of the shooting tragedy in Newtown, the first of the lawsuits has been filed and the plaintiffs are seeking a substantial payday.

A $100 million claim on behalf of a 6-year-old survivor is the first legal action to come out of the Connecticut school shooting that left 26 children and adults dead two weeks ago.

The unidentified client, referred to as Jill Doe, heard “cursing, screaming, and shooting” over the school intercom when the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, opened fire, according to the claim filed by New Haven-based attorney Irv Pinsky.

“As a consequence, the … child has sustained emotional and psychological trauma and injury, the nature and extent of which are yet to be determined,” the claim said.

There is no doubt that the survivors of the attack and their loved ones experienced an unimaginably traumatic event which will stay with them forever. But what is the basis for the claim, not in terms of damages, but the fault of those being sued?

Pinsky’s claim said that the state Board of Education, Department of Education and Education Commissioner had failed to take appropriate steps to protect children from “foreseeable harm.”

It said they had failed to provide a “safe school setting” or design “an effective student safety emergency response plan and protocol.”

Before you can go and ask for $100M from the school board and the state, I think you need to demonstrate that they either did something wrong or failed to do something which would have substantially affected the outcome. This seems to be the same line of thinking that Doug Mataconis is taking on the subject. Let’s turn it over to an actual lawyer for a moment.

At the time Adam Lanza showed up at the school that day, the doors were locked an visitors could only be let in by someone in authority in the school office. When the incident started, teachers and aides did everything they could to evacuate the building or get the children into areas where they’d be hidden and safe. One teacher lost her life protecting her children from Lanza’s murderous spree. What, exactly, is it that this family asserts the school could have reasonably done differently? Perhaps they need to count their blessings, be glad their child is safe, and stop looking for a pot of gold out of this horrible tragedy.

That last sentence is the real kicker here. Your child is alive. There are twenty families in your neighborhood who can’t say the same. You might think to count yourself one of the luckiest people in the world by comparison. You also live in a state which already has some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the nation. The school had just finished another security review, implementing additional safety features and protocols. And as Doug notes, the building was in lock down.

Where is the negligence? Where is the justification for holding your hand out now and demanding to win the lottery while everyone around you is mourning? This is a sad, sad state of affairs.