Leaving Pryde Behind: Virginia Tech Invokes State Cap To Reduce $8 Million Negligence Award To $200,000

I have previously written about my view of the clear negligence committed by Virginia Tech University in the 2007 campus massacre as well as the gross unfairness created by a state cap on damages for the families of dead students and faculty. I have also criticized the university’s litigation posture and steadfast denial of such negligence. Now a jury has added its collective voice to this criticism — finding Virginia Tech not only negligent but awarding the families of two Virginia Tech students $4 million each in a duty-to-warn case. However, due to the state’s imposition of a cap, these awards are likely to be reduced to a mere $100,000 each for their dead children. For parents like Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde, the cap must be a terrible insult as the calculation of what the state believes their child is worth in the face of lethal negligence by the school.

Virginia Tech has raised record amounts of contributions in the wake of the massacre despite its own responsibility in the the deaths of 33 individuals. That responsibility has been laid bare by this verdict regardless of the reduction under state law.

What should be the source of outrage is the continued use of this cap, which reduces the lives of teachers and students to a rather minor expense — particularly when measured against the millions raised in fund drives by the university.

I have long been a critic of these caps, which have not been adjusted for decades. I have had to help grieving families and friends, including students, look for lawyers in states with such caps. In one case, a student lost his fiancé to a case of clear negligence by a trucking company. However, no lawyer was prepared to go to trial in the case because they could not recover more than $250,000 — less than what it would cost in trial time and costs. The result is that the company avoided a trial and the true costs of the death of this young woman.

It took only four hours for the jury to find Virginia Tech liable.

Source: CNN

27 thoughts on “Leaving Pryde Behind: Virginia Tech Invokes State Cap To Reduce $8 Million Negligence Award To $200,000”

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  6. http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2013/10/31/us/ap-us-virginia-tech-lawsuit.html?hp

    Justices Reverse Wrongful Death Va. Tech Verdict

    Published: October 31, 2013 at 10:11 AM ET

    RICHMOND, Va. — The state Supreme Court has reversed a jury’s wrongful death verdict against the state stemming from the killings of 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech in 2007.

    In a decision issued Thursday, the justices say the state had no duty to warn students of the potential acts of a lone student-gunman who initially shot two in a dormitory before killing 30 more people. He then killed himself.

    Jurors in Montgomery County ruled in March 2012 that the state was negligent in the deaths of two students killed on Tech’s Blacksburg campus in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

    Jurors awarded the families of both students $4 million each, but a judge reduced the award to the state cap of $100,000 for each family.

  7. The real issue here is that our country, our culture, and Virginia in particular, are places wehre there is NO ACCOUNTABILITY, there is only LIABILITY. Therefore you get a social worker who knows that a five-year-old is being raped — over and over again — and the social worker says, when verbally cornered about her inaction, “I am not a mandated reporter because I am not treating [her].” Therefore you get a cop who knows he is receiving a report of a crime but he also knows that he will not make any friends by turning in a police report that accurately reports what has happened, so he says, “It’s not up to me to decide who did right or wrong here” and he simply refuses to forward information to the prosecutor. Therefore you get a situation where two people are killed, it is obvious that there is danger for everyone in the area, and you have folks calling their OWN FAMILIES to tell them to keep out of harm’s way but they don’t do anything to protect other people’s families — and why should they? They have no accountability. And surely they have no LIABILITY when the whole system will only take $100,000 for the death of a human being. This is not much advancement from slavery, except for its unpredictability. That is, in the past, in Virginia, you could buy a human for a thousand dollars and kill him without negative consequences; now you can allow a human being to be killed and you aren’t held accountable and guess what, with inflation, it’s still the same price.

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