The Virginia Supreme Court overturned the jury verdict against the state that had previously favored the families of two students killed in the April 16, 2007 shootings that left 32 students and faculty of Virginia Tech dead.
The families of Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson — two of the students slain in the April 16 massacre — sued the state for negligence in alerting students of the initial shootings committed by the gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, before he continued the massacre in Norris Hall.
On March 2012, a Montgomery County jury ruled in favor of the families. Each family was originally awarded $4 million, though the state cap on damages reduced the amount to $100,000.
The state went on to appeal the ruling, contending there was no reason for the local law enforcement to believe the initial shootings were anything more than a domestic dispute, or that the campus was in danger.
The Va. Supreme Court wrote in their 15-page release this morning “it cannot be said that it was known or reasonably foreseeable that students in Norris Hall would fall victim to criminal harm."
Virginia Tech President Charles Steger released a statement this morning expressing gratitude for Tech’s legal counsel, saying, “ Their attention to detail throughout the case — indeed throughout the lengthy fallout from this wrenching tragedy — and their belief in the university’s employees is gratifying and very much appreciated.”
Steger's statement also noted that he was pleased with the outcome.
"While these rulings are favorable to the commonwealth and her employees, they simply clarify the law and, indirectly, shine a light on the underlying cause of the mass tragedy of April 16," Steger said. "The Court’s actions can never reverse the loss of lives nor the pain experienced by so many families and friends of victims of one person. In the end, the cause of these heinous acts and continuing heartbreak was a troubled and angry young man with easy access to powerful killing weapons."
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who was among the legal counsel on the case, also released a written statement.
"While words cannot express the tremendous sympathy we have for the families who lost their loved ones in the Virginia Tech shootings of 2007 — including the Prydes and the Petersons — the Virginia Supreme Court has found what we have said all along to be true..." Cuccinelli's statement said.
Harry Pryde, daughter of victim Julia Pryde, expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome, saying in a phone interview with the Washington Post that he was "deeply saddened that the court was so dismissive of assigning responsibility and was so protective of the commonwealth."