Virginia Tech President Charles Steger, former Vice President James Hyatt, and several university mental health professionals will have to face trial in suits brought in relation to the April 16, 2007 shootings on campus.
Related: Judge's ruling (PDF)
Judge William Alexander, of Franklin County, sent out his rulings Tuesday on several motions argued in a December hearing. He ruled that many university officials originally named in identical suits filed by two victims' families were covered by the state's sovereign immunity, and had no stated duty to warn students of the first two shootings on campus.
The families of Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson brought the charges against many university officials on April 16, 2009, each seeking $10 million in damages.
Charges against Provost Mark McNamee, university spokesman Larry Hincker, Dean of Undergraduate Education David Ford, and Executive Director of Government Relations Ralph Byers have been dismissed. Alexander ruled that sufficient allegations of gross negligence had not been made against these officials, as they were simply named as members of the policy group.
Alexander ruled Steger and Hyatt were covered by Virginia's sovereign immunity, but that they had a duty to warn the students of the shootings, and charges against them will move to trial.
Charges against former Cook Counseling Center director Robert Miller will also move to trial. Alexander's ruling said he and Cook employees Cathye Betzel and Sherry Lynch Conrad were not covered by sovereign immunity. He also said they had a duty to care for the mental health of shooter Seung Hui Cho and protect other students on campus.
Miller located Cho's mental health records in his home in July 2009. They had previously been labeled as missing by the university.
Ed McNelis, Miller's attorney, released a statement in response to the ruling.
"While we respectfully disagree with the Court’s ruling, we remain confident that the facts will show that the therapists at the Cook Counseling Center were not negligent and were not the cause of the tragedy that occurred some sixteen months after Mr. Cho was treated at the Cook Counseling Center," McNelis said.
Charges against employees of the New River Valley Community Services Board were dismissed.
A trial date has yet to be set.