A lawyer is seeking permission to sue the state of Connecticut in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings. The proposed Sandy Hook lawsuit would seek $100 million on behalf of a 6-year-old survivor who heard the violence over the school's intercom.
Lawyer Irving Pinsky says that he isn't bringing the lawsuit on behalf of his client, whom he calls "Jill Doe," for the money. Instead, he says that he is suing to better protect the children, reports The Huffington Post.
Pinsky says that Doe suffers from sustained emotional and psychological trauma after hearing the shootings over the school's intercom system. During the shootings, a gunman killed 20 children and six adults before killing himself.
In Pinsky's proposed Sandy Hook lawsuit, he seeks to claim that the state Board of Education and other state agencies failed to protect the child from "foreseeable harm," such as by failing to provide a safe school setting, reports HuffPo. Pinsky also claims the Board of Education failed to require the school to formulate and implement an effective student safety emergency response plan.
However, in order to first sue the state, the lawyer needs the state's permission.
While it may sound odd to get a party's permission before filing a lawsuit, a government entity like Connecticut is different, as states typically enjoy governmental immunity. So the state's claims commissioner must first review the claim before allowing it to move forward in the civil tort system.
The process the claims commissioner goes through to decide which lawsuits can move forward is set forth in a statute. So the commissioner can't just reject all potential lawsuits. Instead, some suits like those based on reckless and malicious acts by the government are generally allowed to proceed.
It will be interesting to see if the claims commissioner allows this proposed Sandy Hook lawsuit to move forward. Calling one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history "foreseeable" may be a stretch, but no one can argue that Jill Doe was likely traumatized by the horrific incident.
If you are considering suing a state or other government entity, you will want to work with an experienced personal injury lawyer. The process to sue a state is unlike the process to sue a neighbor, employer, or anyone else. An attorney can help you navigate the complex process.
Jan. 2, 2013 Editor's Note: Lawyer Irving Pinsky has withdrawn his claim against the state. Please see our follow-up post, Lawyer's $100M Newtown Shooting Claim Dropped.