It took jurors a little over three hours to reach a verdict in the Virginia Tech trial. The jury found VT guilty of negligence for delaying a campus warning after the first shots were fired during a rampage that left 33 dead in 2007.
The Associated Press reports that the wrongful death civil suit was filed by the parents of two students, Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde, who were killed during the shooting. The jury awarded each family $4 million. The state immediately filed a motion to reduce the reward.
According to the Richmond Times Dispatch, state law states that the award must be capped at $100,000.
The families of Peterson and Pryde argued that their girls would still be alive today if Virginia Tech had warned the campus after the first shots were fired. VT said that they believed that the shooting was an isolated incident and did not believe that the students in Norris Hall were in any danger.
Peter R. Messitt, an attorney for the state, said that Virginia Tech officials could not have anticipate a killing spree. Messitt said that the killing was unprecedented “in the history of higher education” and “one of the most horrible days in America.”
“What happened at Norris Hall was not reasonably foreseeable.”
The Prydes and Peterson’s said that campus police jumped to the conclusion that the first two victims were killed by a jealous boyfriend and did not believe that he was after any other students. VT waited 2 and a half hours before issuing a campus-wide warning.
President Charles W. Steger said that he delayed sending out a campus wide warning because he didn’t want to cause a panic.
Do you think the Virginia Tech verdict was just?