Cyrus Dugger

Could Virginia Tech Be Held Liable for Cho Seung Hui’s Shootings, If An Investigation Were to Reveal It Had Been Negligent? - The Unfortunate Answer

From Findlaw:

Could Virginia Tech Be Held Liable for Cho Seung Hui's Shootings, If An Investigation Were to Reveal It Had Been Negligent? The Unfortunate Answer By ANTHONY J. SEBOK

In the aftermath of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, many commentators have begun to ask whether university officials could have done more to prevent the gunman, Cho Seung Hui, from killing 32 faculty members and students and himself, and wounding others. In this column, I will explore the possible legal basis for holding Virginia Tech liable for Cho's actions.

Importantly, I will not make any claims about Virginia Tech's actual responsibility - just its potential responsibility, contingent on the results of an investigation. Plainly, Cho, who is now dead, was the one most responsible for the events of April 16. No one can or should assume that anyone else bears responsibility for what he did. Only after a careful investigation can that sort of judgment be made.
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But once an investigation is complete, what will it tell us? If it turns out that there was negligence, or worse, on the part of the university or others, can the wounded victims or the families of the deceased victims of the attack sue Virginia Tech for damages?

The answer is not very reassuring for the families or the surviving victims, and it raises important questions about whether we want to insulate the state from accountability in court for its mistakes. (keep reading)

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Posted at 3:12 PM, Apr 24, 2007 in
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Potential lawsuits didn't "scare" the university into doing nothing - they had no grounds to do anything

Agreed. Granted that it was the mostly unforeseen, bizarre phenomenon, arising from a Mental Disorder what the university could never imagine. So how come people in findlaw is already pontificating on how to win the case, that gave rise to the next post by Cyrus

Posted by: Anirban | April 24, 2007 3:57 PM

Sorry I tried to respond to the following post , on the same topic

Response to Ted Frank's (AEI) "Evil Is Always With Us"

Posted by: Anirban | April 24, 2007 4:33 PM

No lawyer will tell the truth about this matter. There are three parties entirely responsible for this tragedy.

1) Cho

2) The Supreme Court that mandated the Virginia commitment law include the word, "imminent," describing the danger requirement prior to enforced treatment. See O'Connor v Donaldson, 1976. Now, Cho qualifies for enforced treatment.

3) The mentally ill reporting gun database regulator that permitted the voluntary patient to not be listed in their do not sell a gun list.

I would like to see these parties sued into bankruptcy. To deter, especially the Supreme Court. I find it unjust that they have dealt themselves, unjust, lawless, corrupt, self-dealt immunities, and precluded the rights of the survivors to recover for their wrongful death injuries stemming from intentionally tortious appellate decisions, and statute drafting, subject to exemplary damages.

One of the effects of immunity is rapid growth. Ending the self-dealt immunities of the criminal cult hierarchy is the best way to slow its growth. No card carrying member of the criminal cult will tell the public the truth about where the real fault lies.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | April 24, 2007 10:06 PM

Actually, one can make a strong case that sovereign immunity should be re-introduced to protect cities and counties from the sort of looting of the taxpayers that occurs in cities such as New York City where juries of non-taxpayers figure "it's not my money" and routinely award large sums against the city for specious and inflated injuries

Posted by: Paul W Dennis | April 24, 2007 11:38 PM

Governments are 99% owned subsidiaries of the lawyer criminal cult enterprise.

Sovereign immunity gets its fundamental justification from the King's speaking with the voice of God, in violation of the Establishment Clause of our secular nation. Let the appellate judge prove he speaks with the voice of God. He would merit legal immunity.

As a matter of policy, immunity means growth, as punishment means shrinkage. Piercing self-dealt, unjustified sovereign immunity is the path to shrinking the tyranny of the criminal cult enterprise in control of the three branches.

If the city should have immunity, so should the welder. Immunity from frivolous, meritless claims has more social benefit if granted to the welder than to the government. The government does nothing well. The less government does, the better off everyone is.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | April 25, 2007 5:43 AM

"3) The mentally ill reporting gun database regulator that permitted the voluntary patient to not be listed in their do not sell a gun list. "

For once, I mostly agree with Supremacy Claus. I'm not a gun control advocate, but I don't think people being treated for mental illness should be able to buy guns.

Posted by: Justinian Lane | April 25, 2007 10:51 AM

Hey, I've got an idea for how the university could have handled the situation. How about expelling Cho from the campus, instead of dealing with the issue as a "mental health" problem and keeping the creep around to terrorize more female students? There were things Cho was doing that could be considered crimes, like stalking female students and taking pictures of female students in class without their consent. Then it is Cho's responsibility to obey the university's order to stay off of campus. If the university had done that, then I would think it would have an airtight alibi against liability.

But that is unimaginable in this day and age, and universities almost never do this anymore. Now they're supposed to babysit for non-learning and/or disruptive students, what we call "diagnosing and treating mental disorder", and "prevent" them from doing harm to themselves and others. The university could have done what Professor Giovanni did to Cho, and simply get him the boot from the campus. Not because it will "prevent" him from behaving badly in the future, but because Cho is an adult who is violating campus rules and local law and needs to be punished. Then Cho learns the right lessons about his bad behavior and his responsibility for said bad behavior.

Instead, Cho got locked up at the behest of his family, "diagnosed" and court ordered into "treatment". He had a disease, you see, and what lessons did he learn from that experience? Just listen to his juvenile ramblings in one of his videos. He said, "You caused me to do this!", which I take to mean Cho's adversaries on campus and his family who locked him up, and "Now you have blood on your hands!". Everybody and anything imaginable but Cho was the "cause" of his carefully planned crimes.

It's been said that a female student Cho had stalked refused to press any charges against him. That would understandable given that the university was too cowardly to do the right thing and simply toss Cho from the campus. Then a female student might have felt emboldened enough to press charges against him. If Cho gets convicted of anything, then you have a legal basis for denying him the right to purchase a gun legally.

The moral problem with mental health law on a college campus, and anywhere else adults might be, is that the university can be damned if it does and damned if it doesn't.

If the university doesn't get Cho into psychiatric treatment, then the university can be held liable for failing to "prevent" Cho from doing what he did. If the university gets Cho into psychiatric treatment, it can STILL be held liable for failing to "prevent" him from doing what he did. No matter what the university or anybody else does, it's always somebody else besides Cho who is supposed to "prevent" him from committing a crime. The simple truth is that nobody can predict with 100% certainty what any one particular individual is going to do in the future, no matter how many fancy advanced degrees he/she might have.

Posted by: James | April 25, 2007 1:41 PM

Virginia is in the Fourth District. That Appeals Court held commitment is permissible but not mandatory.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | April 26, 2007 8:00 AM

Unless NBC had an assignment by Cho to all rights in the material (which I doubt), burning their “bug” into the video, making copies and distributing them was an infringement of the copyright that the Cho estate holds on this material. That’s why when you submit a video via the web to a TV station, you have to agree to a “rights” statement. I certainly hope that the families of the victims bring a wrongful death suite against the Cho family, because I bet they could recover a large award indirectly from NBC and other media outlets. Perhaps such an award would make networks think twice about airing videos from murderers. It is similar to what happened when OJ Simson attempted to publish “If I Did It”.

Posted by: Russ Adams | April 27, 2007 3:18 PM