Five Chardon Schools administrators were found not liable in a 2012 shooting that left three students dead and three others wounded.
The families of the three students killed and one who was paralyzed filed a lawsuit against several school employees two years after the shooting at Chardon High School. The shooting happened on Feb. 27, 2012. The lawsuit claimed the school could have prevented the incident.
The shooting began in the school cafeteria as students waited for buses to other schools. The suspect, TJ Lane, who was 17 at the time, was charged as an adult. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the triple murder.
In Judge John O’Donnell’s 15-page judgment, he found that the school’s administrators cannot be held liable in the wrongful-death suit. Previously, Chardon Local Schools and the Lake Academy Alternative School in Willoughby were dismissed from the suit, according to the Associated Press.
Attorney Markus Apelis, who represents the 5 former Chardon school administrators issued the following statement:
“We appreciate Judge O’Donnell’s handling of this difficult case and are confident that his decision today is the correct result.
Because the matter involves the possibility of ongoing litigation, we cannot comment further until the matter is finally resolved.”
Apelis told News 5 the families of the victims now have 30 days to appeal Judge O'Donnell's ruling to the 11th District Court of Appeals.
According to the newest court documents, the school employees claim they continually made efforts and worked with law enforcement to implement adequate safety and security plans throughout the district, including emergency drills, installing surveillance cameras in school buses and in school buildings and engaging with ongoing reviews of safety measures, among other things. The court ultimately agreed that the school employees did all they could to enact security and safety measures to prevent such a tragic event from happening.
The school employees also maintain that they had no prior knowledge of any behavioral issues or violent tendencies of Lane. He had no disciplinary issues and was on track to graduate, according to court documents. The school employees said there was no evidence that could have helped them foresee that Lane was going to bring a gun to school that day. The court agreed, based on several official accounts of Lane and his behavior, which discerned he was never involved in any disciplinary matters and was on track to graduate.
The AP reports the student who was paralyzed from the shooting is seeking more than $50,000. The other plaintiffs are seeking more than $100,000.