Judge to determine if Oxford school employees will be dismissed from school shooting lawsuits

Should Oxford Community School defendants be dismissed from all civil lawsuits related to the deadly November 2021 school shooting?
Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 12:27 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2023 at 2:43 PM EST
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OAKLAND CO., Mich. (WNEM) – Should Oxford Community School defendants be dismissed from all civil lawsuits related to the deadly November 2021 school shooting?

That is the question Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Mary Ellen Brennan will answer.

“This one obviously happens to be not just one of the biggest cases here in Michigan, but one of the biggest in the country,” Attorney Ven Johnson said about the lawsuit he filed on behalf of eight families of victims of the Oxford High School Shooting.

In October, Ethan Crumbley pleaded guilty to shooting and killing four students and injuring seven others, including a teacher in Nov. 2021.

On Wednesday, Brennan heard oral arguments from both Ven Johnson and an attorney representing Oxford Community Schools. The judge will decide if several teachers, administrators, and a security guard should be dismissed from all civil lawsuits because of governmental immunity.

“What the teachers and administrators at Oxford Community Schools did wrong was negligent, and/or grossly negligent, and it clearly led to the backpack being given back to Crumbley, without searching it, which clearly had the gun, ammunition, and we also know it had the manifesto outlining exactly what he was going to do,” Ven Johnson said.

During a roundtable on Wednesday, Ven Johnson said there is a stipulation in the verbiage of the law that allows judges to throw out the case if they choose due to the controversial verbiage, instead of letting a jury decide if the defendants should be dismissed from the lawsuits.

Johnson said the case against Oxford Community Schools shouldn’t be thrown out. He said he was hopeful Brennan would allow the plaintiffs’ day in court so a jury could decide if the defendants were indeed grossly negligent.

Johnson says if the judge rules in favor of his clients, it will be awhile before a jury hears the case.

“[The defendants] will likely file an appeal, and that appeal will likely take a year and a half, where we can do nothing else on the case as it relates to Oxford Community Schools until that’s done.”

If the judge rules that the school employees will be dismissed from the lawsuit, Ven Johnson plans to appeal in the Michigan court of appeals, then if necessary, the Michigan Supreme Court.

First, the judge needs to make her decision.

“We’re guessing within two weeks, but there is no set timeline per say,” Ven Johnson said.

The judge presiding over the case told the court she would issue a written opinion sooner rather than later, saying that she thinks everybody needs an answer.

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