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Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Problem(s) With The Virginia Tech Verdict

You know the story.

You probably know of the legal settlement.

Now comes the trial.  And the verdict.

My take?

1) The Roanoke Times says the civil suit wasn't about money; it was about "principle."  Yet the lawyers for the plaintiffs sued for the former and not the latter.  And the plaintiffs received (perhaps) four million of the former - each - and zero of the latter (regardless what the Times claims was achieved).

2) A jury of our peers found Virginia Tech to have been negligent because of its lack of a timely response to the massacre that took place on April 16, 2007.  All agree, however, that the "negligence" involved minutes, not hours or days or weeks.  Minutes.  In a murky situation that makes for great reproval and censure - in hindsight.  In truth, those minutes made no difference to the outcome.  None.  In truth, those students and faculty members' fates were sealed that day.  And nothing - considering the circumstances - was going to change that.  Nothing.

3) The trial judge allowed testimony from grieving relatives to be admitted into evidence.  A kind gesture.  But a totally unwarranted one.  How do you factor a parent's grief into a charge of negligence?  With sympathy, that's how.  And a lot of taxpayer money.

4) The Times thinks Virginia Tech should not appeal the verdict, that the community must now try to heal.  But it isn't Virginia Tech that has kept that open wound from cauterizing after all this time.  It was the plaintiffs.  And you can bet - now that they've successfully won their case on principle - that they'll fight tooth and nail in an appeals court for everything but principle.

I believe in the jury system.  I'm accepting of the verdict.

But I'll not go along with all those who believe it had anything to do with "principle."