Enter Connecticut attorney Irving Pinsky, who announced last month that he would be seeking to sue the state on behalf of an unnamed client referred to only as “Jill Doe.” Pinsky, reportedly the mastermind behind holding up a 1-800-Law-Cash sign in the crowd outside the Today Show studios, argued that the state should be held responsible for the “emotional and psychological trauma” his young client endured.
His suit alleged that she heard “cursing, screaming, and shooting” over the school intercom when Lanza entered the school building and that “as a consequence, the …child has sustained emotional and psychological trauma and injury, the nature and extent of which are yet to be determined.” I am certain that every child in that building endured some degree of emotional or psychological trauma. Pinsky was unsure whether his client actually saw anyone killed.
As a legal matter, he argued that the school didn’t provide a “safe school setting” or design, nor “an effective student safety emergency response plan and protocol.” Putting aside whether any training was “proper,” what difference would it have made? Pinsky’s client might have preferred that the gunfire and screaming not be transmitted over the intercom as Lanza was killing her classmates, but that chaos emanating from the intercom is what led brave teachers to jump to action and save tens of lives by acting on something far more valuable than training, instinct.
The legal and ethical problem, of course, is that the school had locked the doors and the only way Lanza was able to enter the building was by shooting his way in. The school is responsible for protecting students from “reasonably foreseeable harm,” not any harm. If someone shooting through a locked down school is foreseeable, then I would think the only possible way to “protect” students would be to adopt the NRA’s suggestion of having armed guards at every school (and as we saw at Columbine, that doesn’t necessarily prevent it either). Even if you agree with that radical position, it is ludicrous to suggest that the school should have been legally required to have armed guards in place before this occurred.
Then again – maybe law enforcement didn’t respond quickly enough and therefore additional training for teachers could have changed the outcome? Except they did. After receiving the first call at 9:35 am, the police arrived almost immediately, and that is what caused Lanza to take his own life before inflicting more carnage.
Alas, after days of blow-back to this frivolous and shameful lawsuit, Pinsky announced that he was withdrawing it. But just for now. “I received new evidence on security at the school, which I need to evaluate,” Pinsky told the Stamford Advocate.