Southfield Today, Thursday, attorney Jeffrey Feiger said survivors of the mass shooting at Oxford High School have filed two $100 million lawsuits against the school and staff.
The announcement comes more than a week after prosecutors said Ethan Curmbley, 15, killed four students and injured six other students and a teacher.
Fieger filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Oxford students and her sibling Riley Franz, 17, an undergraduate, and Bella Franz, 14, a student. Riley was shot in the neck while she was next to Bella during the attack.
That lawsuit accuses school officials of failing to stop an attack that caused physical and psychological injuries to students and marked the start of what is expected to be a wave of lawsuits against the district in the wake of the country’s deadliest school shooting since 2018. In a federal lawsuit filed early in the year Thursdays include Supervisor Timothy Thrun, High School Principal Stephen Wolfe, Dean Ryan Moore and anonymous counselors, teachers and staff.
“The horror of November 30, 2021 was completely avoidable,” Weger said in a statement on Thursday.
Speaking on Thursday, Weger said there is a responsibility among the advisors and administrators for the ceasefire.
“At Oxford High School, they would search your backpack if they thought you were vaping, but they refused to hang or search a student who wrote what we now know were reams of notes and drawings of murder, classroom slaughter scenes and mania.”
Weger said he hopes to make the financial cost of “allowing children to be slaughtered” high, forcing people to make the necessary changes.
He said he understood “we cannot change the skewed values of the Second Amendment community that values prioritizing gun ownership over the lives of our children overnight,” but that by making failure to act costly, it may save lives in the future.
He described Riley and Bella as two balcony students “dropped as if they were in a war zone.” He said Riley has been accepted into six colleges, and rather than spend her vacation focusing on that, she should instead focus on recovering from an injury that Feger said less than 2% of people survive from. He said Bella was by her side during the shooting and is “literally shocked as if she was living in a war zone”.
“This is not unique, the horror this family must go through,” he said.
He said the teachers were included in the lawsuit, because the district had not been upfront about who was involved in the critical decisions regarding decisions to allow Ethan Crumble to stay in school and not to involve the police liaison officer.
He said he had not heard a “reasonable explanation” from officials as to why the police liaison officer was not involved. “As a result, by doing the things they did or did not do, they put the students at much greater risk.”
Details of the second lawsuit that Fieger is due to file were not immediately available.
The federal lawsuit filed Thursday chronicles many of the warning signs that were ignored, including threats posted on social media, and Wolff’s mistakes to reduce risks to students in the days leading up to the shooting.
Several parents alerted Wolf of the online threats on November 16, prompting the manager to email the parents later that day, according to the lawsuit.
“I know I’m redundant here, but there is absolutely no threat at HS… big assumptions were made from a few social media posts, and then the assumptions developed into exaggerated rumours,” wrote Wolf.
School district spokeswoman Danielle Stoblinsky did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Thursday.
Fieger also represented the family of Isaiah Shoels, who was killed in the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, an event he said was very similar to the Oxford High School shooting.
Weger acknowledged that state immunity laws in Michigan make it difficult for parents to sue school districts.
Royal Oak lawyer Todd Flood said victims suing Oxford schools would have to overcome this immunity, a high threshold in legal cases.
“One way to overcome government immunity is to show willful indifference, and that it was a responsibility created by the state with gross negligence,” Flood said. “This is the biggest hurdle,” said Flood, who represents several women in a lawsuit against Eastern Michigan University alleging that officials covered up dozens of sexual assaults.
“With all the facts that have been made clear, it is clear to me that this was a responsibility created by the state,” Flood said. “They had all the tools to prevent this and they would have been in a very unique position to stop this had they just used reasonable care.”
On the day of the shooting, the manager and supervisor reviewed Crumbley’s social media posts, according to the lawsuit. This included threats to kill people and a sinister quote posted on Twitter the night before the shooting: “Now it’s death, destroyer of worlds. See you tomorrow Oxford.”
“Despite the publications and knowledge of threats of violence, Defendant Thrun sent correspondence and emails to parents at Oxford High School to assure them that their children were safe at Oxford High School,” the lawsuit reads. “Thanks to the actions of the defendant’s throne, the damage to the plaintiff’s palace has greatly increased.”
The day before the shooting, an unknown teacher spotted Crumpley searching for ammo on his cell phone after his father bought a Sig Sauer 9mm semi-automatic pistol as a gift early Christmas, according to police.
The suit alleged that the teacher allowed Crumpley to stay in the class, and reported to an unidentified counselor but failed to warn the school safety liaison officer, a deputy working for the Oakland County Police Department.
On the same day, Cromble met the counselor and a staff member and was allowed to return to school the next day.
The lawsuit alleges that “this action helped expedite plans to carry out a massacre of his classmates.”
The unidentified employee “knewly and deliberately made a decision not to take any meaningful corrective action against Ethan Crumble, which increases the risk of minors of plaintiffs being subjected to Ethan Cromple’s violence.”
On the day of the shooting, an unidentified teacher found a note on Cromble’s desk that included a drawing of a semi-automatic pistol and the chancellor took a picture with her cell phone, according to Weger.
The note read: “Ideas Won’t Stop Helping Me” and included a bullet drawing and the phrase “Blood is everywhere.”
The suit alleges that another unidentified teacher allowed Crumble to keep his backpack in the classroom, a clear violation of school policy, a move that gave the alleged shooter “easy access to gun storage.”
After the note was discovered, Crumpley was taken out of class and sat at the school desk for 90 minutes, with his backpack, while waiting for his parents to get to school, according to Fieger.
According to the lawsuit, the anonymous counsel knew or should have known that “such actions will further accelerate Ethan Crumble’s criminal plans.”
According to the lawsuit, school officials, including Wolf and Moore, met Crumbly and his parents, but the deputy mayor was not among them. After that, Crumpley was allowed to remain in the school.
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard said Crumbley can be seen in video leaving the school bathroom after the meeting armed and walking down a school hallway where he began indiscriminately shooting students and the teacher at close range.
In the lawsuit, Weger wrote, school officials, including Wolfe and Morey, “give Ethan Crumbly the opportunity to go to the bathroom with his backpack in preparation for his planned rampage.”
Throne, the supervisor, posted a message Wednesday on the county’s website stating that the district was and will be cooperating fully with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and the Oakland County District Attorney’s office in the investigation.
“We couldn’t say more because this is an ongoing investigation,” Thrun said. We do not have all the facts and cannot interfere with the investigation of the claim. We know this has caused frustration and anger but we are doing our best under difficult circumstances.”
Refer to www.detroitnews.com for more information on this developing story.