Sandy Hook Parents Lose State Court Appeal in School Safety Lawsuit
Sandy Hook plaintiffs alleged the school failed to follow a mandated security protocol in the December 2012 shooting. The appeals court agreed with a lower court judge that governmental immunity shielded the defendants.
- By Kaitlyn DeHaven
- July 16, 2019
The appeals court ruled 3-0 against the parents of Jesse Lewis and Noah Pozner on Friday, agreeing with a lower court judge that governmental immunity shielded the defendants. The two families alleged negligence and inadequate school-safety protocols contributed to the death of their children during the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in December 2012.
The parents alleged that school officials failed to follow a mandated security protocol and order a lockdown that may have saved lives immediately after the gunman shot his way into the school. Moreover, they faulted the school for having classroom doors that could not be locked from inside the classroom.
In May 2018, at trial, Danbury Superior Court Judge Robin Wilson focused her decision primarily on government immunity. The appellate court agreed with Wilson and affirmed her ruling.
“The plaintiffs also claim that the trail court erred in rendering summary judgement because the school security guidelines adopted by the defendants imposed upon the school faculty and staff a ministerial duty to act in a prescribed manner during the shooting,” Judge Thomas Bishop wrote for the appellate panel. “The language in the guidelines referenced by the plaintiffs contradicts this claim.”
According to law.com, the plaintiffs claimed in their appellate oral argument that the defendants left the school’s faculty and staff in a position in which they failed or could not adhere to mandatory school security guidelines. However, the defendants’ rebuttal was a successful motion for summary judgment statin they were entitled to government immunity pursuant to the Connecticut General Statutes, and that there was no genuine issue of material fact regarding the alleged negligence.
“The school security guidelines contained qualifying language such as ‘may’ or ‘should,’ which indicated that the school faculty and staff had discretion to exercise judgment in following them,” Bishop wrote in the ruling.
Kaitlyn DeHaven is the Associate Content Editor for the Infrastructure Solutions Group at 1105 Media.