In Michigan School Shooting, the first lawsuit is filed

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The parents of two sisters who survived the November 30 shooting at Oxford High School in suburban Detroit on Thursday filed a federal complaint against the school district and its officials, including the superintendent, principal, dean of students, two guidance counselors and two teachers.

The plaintiffs are Jeffrey and Brandi Franz, parents of Riley, a 17-year-old, and Bella, a 14-year-old freshman. Riley was shot in the neck in front of his sister.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court, seeks $ 100 million in damages. He claims constitutional violations under the 14th Amendment and violations under Michigan state law because adolescents “have a clearly established right to be free from harm.” The lawsuit also says school staff members acted with “reckless disregard” for the safety of the victims.

A second lawsuit will be filed in state court, parents’ attorney Geoffrey Fieger said. Mr. Fieger represented the survivors of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999 and represented the victims of the Flint water crisis.

Four students were killed and several others were seriously injured in the Oxford shooting. Ethan Crumbley, 15, has been charged with murder and terrorism. His parents, Jennifer and James Crumbley, were charged with manslaughter because the prosecutor said they should have known their son was a danger to his school after buying him a gun. They all pleaded not guilty.

The actions of the school district, Oxford Community Schools, have also been put under the microscope. At a press conference last week, Oakland County District Attorney Karen D. McDonald described a chilling sequence of events that led to the shooting.

The day before the shooting, a teacher found Ethan Crumbley searching for ammo on his phone. The school knew, Ms. McDonald said, that he had recently visited a shooting range with his mother. And on the morning of the shooting, a teacher discovered an alarming drawing of Mr. Crumbley that included a gun, a person who had been shot, and the words “Thoughts won’t stop.” Help me.”

Mr Crumbley’s parents were called to an immediate school reunion with their son. They were told to put him in for consultation within 48 hours or risk being reported to child welfare. They refused to take him home when asked to do so, according to the prosecutor.

The school district said staff members chose to bring Mr Crumbley back to class after that meeting, after observing him behaving normally in the guidance office. Mr Crumbley’s personal belongings were not searched for a weapon, and later that day he started shooting after coming out of a bathroom, authorities said.

The lawsuit filed Thursday says that “Ethan Crumbley posted countdowns and threats of bodily harm” on social media, and that parents complained to administrators about the social media posts in the weeks leading up to the shooting, but Superintendent Tim Throne and Principal Steven Wolf said the threats were not credible.

The lawsuit also says school officials did not involve the school security officer in the meeting with Mr Crumbley and his parents on the day of the shooting. The complaint claims the principal and dean of the students were in a meeting with the Crumbley family, while the district said incidents before the shooting “remained at the level of guidance counselors.”

In its defense, the school said in an earlier statement that Ethan Crumbley was dismissed from class because he “had not had any previous disciplinary offenses”, adding that the counselors “passed judgment on them. professional training and clinical experience and did not have all the facts we now know.

In an interview with The New York Times, Mr Fieger said he simply does not believe the district’s version of events and that his lawsuit would require him to provide documents under a subpoena. .

“They are shy,” he said.

According to Mr. Fieger, Riley Franz was gunned down after coming out of a bathroom with Bella and a friend. The friend was one of two girls who were shot dead.

Riley was hospitalized and is now recovering at home with a neck injury but no other major physical disabilities, he said.

Years of civil litigation often follow school shootings. But administrators, teachers and counselors seldom have to fear criminal charges, legal experts say, even when there was some sort of advance warning of potential violence.

In the interview, Mr. Fieger said he hopes expensive lawsuits will force a national conversation about gun control.

“We are the strangest company in the world,” he said. “If we started making it expensive, we would be doing a cost-benefit analysis between this so-called right to bear arms and the cost of slaughter in our schools.


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