Recalling expert testimony that the suspect had likely fled, he said Cho’s Norris Hall shootings were unforeseeable to the policy group following police advice — the key point in his appeal to jurors and their instructions.
But in his rebuttal, Hall apparently got the last word in the jurors’ minds.
“It’s not required that they predict Norris,” he argued. “It’s the reasonable foreseeability that someone on campus with a gun who has already killed two might put a bullet in someone else.”
After hearing the verdict, Bill Broaddus — an attorney representing the university who was formerly Virginia’s Attorney General — expressed his sympathy for the victims’ families but disagreed with the logic behind the case’s outcome.
“We feel we proved beyond question that the rampage Cho went on after the West AJ murders was unforeseen and unforeseeable,” he said. “The jury, using 20/20 hindsight, second-guessed the judgment of police and university officials.”
University spokesman Mark Owczarski released a statement revealing Tech’s intention to fight the verdict.
“We do not believe that evidence presented at trial relative to the murders in West Ambler-Johnston created an increased danger to the campus that day,” the statement said. “We will discuss this matter with the attorney general, carefully review the case and explore all of the options available.”
The state’s numerous objections to the use of the term “reasonable foreseeability of harm” and its related usages could be grounds for appeal. It held a related objection to the concept of a university having a special relationship with its students.
It also claimed the plaintiffs failed to prove the state’s negligence actually caused the harm to Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde, because no evidence was presented to identify where the students were or what they were doing that morning. As a matter of legal standard, it is assumed they would have acted with “ordinary care,” upon receiving an alert.
Even with a verdict, the case still has some loose ends. The plaintiffs are expected to write a memorandum asking the judge to waive the cap on damages, and state attorneys intend to file written objections to the verdict. An appeal of the case, if pursued, would go to the Virginia Supreme Court.