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$100 Million Suit for Newtown Family at Stake in Attorney's Claim to State

A New Haven-based attorney representing the family of a 6-year-old survivor of the Sandy Hook School shooting says the state failed to protect the children from "foreseeable harm."


Claiming that the state failed to protect Sandy Hook Elementary School from "foreseeable harm," a New Haven-based attorney is seeking permission to file a $100 million lawsuit on behalf of a 6-year-old survivor of the Dec. 14 shooting.

The action comes two weeks after 20 children and six educators were gunned down at the school by 20-year-old Adam Lanza, a Newtown resident who police said ultimately turned the gun on himself.

Lanza reportedly shot and killed his mother, Nancy, before driving to the nearby school.

The attorney, Irving Pinsky, filed the request Thursday with Claims Commissioner J. Paul Vance Jr., according to a Harford Courant article.

Because Connecticut has sovereign immunity, the Claims Commissioner must grant permission before the lawsuit could be filed, Pinsky told Patch in a telephone interview Saturday morning.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen here,” he said. "They [claims to the commissioner] generally take a long time."

“There’s plenty of history of them granting permission, but I’m not going to guess out loud what they’re going to do,” he added.

Pinsky is representing a 6-year-old girl identified in the claim as "Jill Doe." The claim says "the state Board of Education, the state Department of Education and the education commissioner failed to take steps to protect the minor children from foreseeable harm," the Courant reports.

It further states that the girl suffered emotional and psychological distress as a result of the things she heard and saw that day.

There are more than 600 students enrolled at Sandy Hook School, which is still closed off as a crime scene while state police continue their investigation. Sandy Hook students will be attending Chalk Hill School in neighboring Monroe for the foreseeable future.

“I’m pretty sure there’s many people who have attorneys lined up,” Pinsky said.

He is still building evidence for the claim, he said, through interviews with witnesses and looking into any potential prior acts of Adam Lanza. “That’s a big part of figuring what to do with any case,” he noted.

Pinsky, who was born and raised in Connecticut, said he hopes the state and country will take the Newtown tragedy as an opportunity to effect positive change and put in place new measures to protect against future school shootings.

"Society should be on edge," Pinsky said. "Something terrible happened."

He says there seems to be concensus that something needs to be done, but the "ways we do that is what people are arguing about” — whether it's more proactive relations with youngster, gun control, improved mental health treatment or a myriad of other related issues.

"We’ll never have a perfect society in my lifetime," Pinsky said, "but I want to make it better.”

Already, in the days following the shooting, President Barack Obama spoke of the need to do more to protect the country's children during a visit to Newtown. He also appointed Vice President Joe Biden to oversee the policy response to the tragedy.

Recognizing the need for a multi-prong approach and looking to ride the building momentum to effect change, the group Newtown United was formed in the wake of the tragedy. A cross-section of the community, the group has the support of elected officials and is at work refining its mission.

Genevieve Triplett December 30, 2012 at 02:34 AM
This is a great reason to outlaw semi-automatic guns.

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