A jury found Virginia Tech negligent in a 2007 massacre that killed 32 people and recommended $4 million payouts each to two families, saying the university was too slow in issuing a warning that a gunman was on the loose.
The families of Julia Pryde and Erin Peterson brought the wrongful death lawsuit against the university. Pryde and Peterson, both students at Virginia Tech, were shot and killed by fellow student Seung-Hui Cho on April 16, 2007.
The seven-member jury in Christianburg, Virginia determined that university officials should have been quicker to issue a campus warning after two students were killed in a residence hall. The gunman then went on a two-hour shooting rampage firing into a classroom and other areas on campus before killing himself.
"We are disappointed with today's decision and stand by our long-held position that the administration and law enforcement at Virginia Tech did their absolute best with the information available on April 16, 2007," Mark Owczarski, a university spokesman, said in a statement.
"We will discuss this matter with the attorney general, carefully review the case and explore all of the options available."
Pryde, of New Jersey, had been studying biological systems engineering, while Peterson, of Virginia, had been majoring in international studies, according to memorial pages on the Virginia Tech website.
Peterson was shot in her French class. Pryde was died while attending an advanced hydrology class.
Trial evidence showed that three law enforcement agencies had unanimously deemed the mass shooting unforeseeable, according to the attorney general's office.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Education ordered Virginia Tech to pay a $55,000 fine for failing to issue a timely warning. The university appealed the fine.
by RTT Staff Writer
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