Chardon HS shooting lawsuit moves forward

Posted at 3:38 PM, Mar 01, 2016

A lawsuit has been filed by the families of three students killed and one paralyzed in the shooting at Chardon High School in 2012, according to court documents.

Court documents showed the lawsuit is against numerous school employees and claimed the school district could've prevented the incident.

The lawsuit was filed by Robert Parmertor, representing Daniel Parmertor, a student who died in the shooting. Chardon Local Schools, Joseph Bergant, II, et al., and Bill Kermavner, et al., are listed on the document as defendants.

The lawsuit stated the issues before the court were the following:

The issues before the court in this consolidated appeal are two-fold: (1) whether the Lake County Court of Common Pleas properly dismissed various claims alleged in the underlying civil complaint, pursuant to Civ.R. 12(C), and (2) whether the trial court properly denied dismissal of other claims. For the reasons discussed below, we affirm the trial court’s judgment.

It stated Robert and Dina Parmertor representing Daniel Parertor, Jeannie King representing Russell King, Jr. who died in the shooting, Todd M. McKenney representing Demetrius Hewlin who died in the shooting, Phyllis Ferguson, and Nick Walczak filed a complaint against the following Chardon High School employees:

  • Superintendent Joseph Bergant II
  • Director of Operations Dana Stearns
  • Principal Andy Fetchik
  • Assistant Principal Michael Sedlak
  • Chardon Board of Education
  • Chardon Local School District Board of Education
  • Chardon Local Schools
  • Chardon Local School District
  • Chardon High School
  • Board Member Debbie Seenarine-Wilson
  • Board Member Blake Rear
  • Board Member Cindy Sague
  • Board Member Karen Blankenship
  • Board Member David Fairbanks
  • Board Member Paul Stefanko
  • Board Member Guy Wilson
  • Board Member Larry Reiter
  • Director of Lake Academy/Lake Co. Educational Service Ctr. employee Bill Kermavner
  • Director of Lake Academy/Lake Co. Educational Service Ctr. employee John Weiss
  • Superintendent/Lake Co. Educational Service Ctr. employee Brian Bontempo

The lawsuit said the complaint alleged:

On February 27, 2012, a shooting perpetrated by nonparty Thomas M. Lane, III (“Lane”) occurred at Chardon High School. Lane was a student at Lake Academy, an alternative school for at-risk students with serious academic or behavioral problems. For the daily trip to school, Lane was required to change buses at Chardon High School. On February 27, 2012, while awaiting a transfer bus to Lake Academy, Lane entered the Chardon High School cafeteria carrying a .22 caliber semi-automatic handgun, fired ten rounds of ammunition, and shot six students. The shooting resulted in the deaths of three students, Daniel Parmertor, Russell King, Jr., and Demetrius Hewlin, and caused serious permanent injuries to Plaintiff Nick Walczak.

Plaintiffs allege that Lane was a known at-risk student who was mentally unstable, had committed acts of violence on prior occasions, and was at high risk for committing violent acts.

The pleadings in the case, according to the lawsuit, stated the defendants acted 'in the course and scope of their employment or duties as board members or employees. Those particular allegations are not disputed, and immunity has been raised as a defense.'

The plaintiffs' complaint in the lawsuit alleged 'the shooting occurred within and on the grounds of public buildings and was due, at least in part, to employee and board negligence as well as physical defects to the property.' The defects included a failure to furnish safety features and equipment necessary to eliminate hazardous conditions on the school property.


The lawsuit further stated:

In Plaintiffs’ brief, they state: “Plaintiffs have no way of knowing what each individual Defendant knew or did * * *. If Defendants still feel that there is no proof they did anything wrong * * * they will certainly be entitled to seek summary judgment through Civ.R. 56.” On one hand, Plaintiffs have made serious and sweeping allegations of misconduct on the part of the school Administrators and Employees. On the other hand, they argue they cannot state any further allegations with specificity because they “have no way of knowing” what any individual defendant did or did not do.

Read the 19-page lawsuit in full here.