School Not Liable for|Shooting, Court Rules

     (CN) – A school district in Pocatello, Idaho, is not liable for failing to prevent the murder of a high-school girl, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled, despite warnings of a “Columbine-like” shooting. The justices said the murder, though tragic, was unforseeable, “absent the benefit of hindsight.”

     In February 2004, about two and a half years before the murder, a student reported that Brian Draper and another student, C.N., were planning a school shooting. Draper and C.N. denied any such plan and were warned by school officials to not make any threatening statements, even in jest.
     One month later, students reported that Draper and another boy had walked through a school dance pretending to shoot people. C.N. told school officials that Draper was obsessed with the Columbine massacre and had photos of killers on his bedroom wall.
     In 2006, another student showed a note that Draper and fellow student Torey Adamcik shared that said, “When are we going to do this?”
     School officials dismissed the student’s concerns.
     Later that month, Draper and Adamcik made a video talking about how they were going to kill Cassie Jo Stoddart and carry out a Columbine-style shooting.
     They entered the Contreras family’s house and stabbed Stoddart to death. The boys were convicted of her murder.
     The Contreras and Stoddart families sued the school and Draper’s parents for wrongful death, infliction of emotional distress and property loss.
     The trial court dismissed their case, and Justice Joel Horton upheld the decision on appeal.
     “In light of the lack of foreseeability of this crime and the enormous burden that would be imposed upon school districts if we were to find that a duty exists in this case, we conclude that no duty attached to the school district under these circumstances,” Horton wrote.
     “The notes did not identify Cassie Jo as the potential victim of a crime. Despite the terrible tragedy that occurred in this case, we are unable to conclude that Cassie Jo’s murder was foreseeable, absent the benefit of hindsight.”

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