We all know that we live in a sue-happy society. At the slightest hint of human suffering, a great many Americans go running for the nearest lawyer, while multitudes of lawyers wait in the wings, hoping to exploit any and all tragedies. Such was the case earlier this year when the passengers aboard a stranded Carnival cruise ship decided to sue, or when spectators at Daytona International Speedway decided to sue after debris from a wreck was hurled into the grandstands.
Although no one died as a result of these "tragedies", lawyers wasted no time in preparing to file claims. It stands to reason that a tragedy as horrific as the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting would be a goldmine for lawyers.
Days after the shooting, attorney Irving Pinksy made headlines when he filed a $100 million lawsuit against the state of Connecticut on behalf of an unnamed 6-year-old survivor of the Newtown massacre. Shortly thereafter, on Jan. 1, Pinsky withdrew his request to sue the state. He stated that "nervousness" among Newtown residents was a motivator in dropping his client's claim, along with several death threats he had received. "I always figure no matter how many death threats I get, it's less than what the little league umpires get," quipped Pinksy, in a CNN article.
Oddly, no other lawyers have attempted to file lawsuits in the wake of Sandy Hook. No one is seeking damages from the state, the town, the school district, firearms manufacturers, or the Lanza estate. This is particularly odd because after Pinksy filed his request to sue, just about every media outlet predicted that a deluge of lawsuits would follow.
"More Newtown lawsuits will follow the first $100 million Newtown lawsuit because the Sandy Hook massacre could have been avoided if Newtown’s schools had followed Connecticut’s special education law." Examiner.com, 12.30.12
And what about the mysterious Ryan Lanza, who was initially reported by the media to an audience of tens of millions that he was the shooter? Surely Ryan Lanza could've sued for libel and defamation of character. Inexplicably, he just seemed to shrug off the whole case of mistaken identity as if it was nothing more serious than a parking ticket.
In 2001, the families of Columbine shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were ordered to pay $2.53 million to the families of the victims, as well as to some of the survivors. Numerous other lawsuits stemming from Columbine were filed, with most of them being dismissed.
In the case of the 1997 shooting incident at Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, parents of the three girls killed by Michael Carneal attempted to hold the media legally responsible for inducing violence by suing 25 companies that produce violent video games.
Since it's been reported that Adam Lanza was addicted to violent video games, why haven't any of the Sandy Hook families attempted to sue the game manufacturers?
In 1998, Kip Kinkel murdered his parents and then went on a shooting spree at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon. The parents of one of the students injured in the shooting filed a $14.5 million lawsuit against Kip Kinkel and the estate of his parents, Bill and Faith Kinkel. The family of Richard Peek, another student injured in the shooting, had filed a $250,000 personal injury suit against the Kinkels, but it never came to trial because the student later died in an unrelated incident.
Not only have Sandy Hook survivors refused to file lawsuits, they haven't even filed "intent to sue" notices. These notices are required to be filed within 180 days after an injury. In the case of the Columbine shooting, 20 families had filed notices of "intent to sue". These notices targeted local government agencies, the Jefferson County sheriff's office, and the school district. While "intent to sue" notices are not lawsuits, they allow victims to retain their right to sue at a later date.
Just about every school shooting in American history has been followed by a flurry of lawsuits. Yet none have been filed in the wake of Sandy Hook, save for the $100 million claim which Irving Pinsky withdrew a few days afterward because of incessant death threats from folks around Newtown.
Really makes you wonder, doesn't it?