A judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by the parents of two children slain in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, against the city and its school district.
Connecticut state Superior Court Judge Robin Wilson ruled in a decision released Tuesday that neither Newtown nor its Board of Education can be held liable for the deaths of Sandy Hook students Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner, siding instead with the defendants and granting their request for summary judgement.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs had argued that defendants were liable in part for the deaths of their descendants because educators allegedly didn’t follow security protocols that could have possibly prevented former Sandy Hook student Adam Lanza, 20, from killing 26 people inside the school on Dec. 14, 2012, but the court ultimately agreed with the city that school officials’ actions are shielded by government immunity protections in the same way as police officers.
“Emergencies, by their very nature, are sudden and often rapidly evolving events, and a response can never be one hundred percent scripted and directed and is a significant reason why police officers have been afforded broad discretion,” Judge Wilson wrote in his 29-page ruling. “To say that the faculty and staff of the school were to act in a prescribed manner in responding to an emergency situation would likewise be illogical and in direct contradiction to the very purpose of governmental immunity: allowing for the exercise of judgment without the fear of second-guessing.
“In the present case, faculty and staff had to make split-second decisions in the face of an armed gunman and subjecting their decisions to scrutiny, aided by hindsight, would no less serve the public interest than subjecting a police officer’s discretionary decisions to second guessing,” the judge wrote. “In short, the actions of the faculty and staff in responding to the attack by Lanza required the exercise of discretion and immunity will apply unless the plaintiffs fall within an applicable exception.”
Donald Papcsy, an attorney for the parents, vowed to appeal.
The ruling “should serve as NOTICE to all parents of young boys and girls: Our children are not safe in public schools,” Mr. Papcsy said in a statement.
“From our neighbors in Sandy Hook, to the young men and women of Parkland, the legislatures and judicial systems have decided for all of us that, even when the facts support a total breakdown of school security protocol, the ‘immunity’ laws are used as an excuse to prevent parents from holding them accountable,” Mr. Papcsy added.
Charles DeLuca, an attorney for Newtown, called the ruling “thoughtful and well-reasoned,” the Hartford Courant reported Tuesday.
“The judge recognized in the middle of a volatile emergency situation that lasted less than five minutes people need to have the opportunity to use their best judgment on how to respond,” Mr. DeLuca said. “The judge realized the cause of this horrible tragedy wasn’t anything the school officials did but something that only Adam Lanza did.”
Lanza killed 20 first-grade students and six adults at his former school after fatally shooting his mother inside their Newtown home, according to authorities. He entered the building by shooting his way through a window, then opened fire inside two classrooms before eventually taking his own life after committing one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.
© Copyright (c) 2018 News World Communications, Inc.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.