RPT-$100M claim against Connecticut in school shooting is dropped

Tue Jan 1, 2013 12:16pm EST

Jan 1 (Reuters) - A $100 million legal claim filed against the state of Connecticut in the wake of the deadly Newtown elementary school shooting has been dropped, local media reported on Tuesday.

New Haven, Connecticut-based attorney Irving Pinsky said he dropped the claim because he was evaluating new evidence, according to a report published online at CTPost.com.

Pinsky said he did not rule out further legal action, the report said. He did not respond immediately to Reuters requests to comment on the report.

The attorney filed the claim last week on behalf of an unidentified 6-year-old survivor of the Newtown shooting at a primary school that left 20 children and six adults dead on Dec. 14.

The survivor, referred to as Jill Doe, "has sustained emotional and psychological trauma and injury, the nature and extent of which are yet to be determined," the claim said.

State Attorney General George Jepsen on Monday called the claim misguided and said a public policy response by the U.S. Congress and the Connecticut state legislature would be more appropriate than legal action, according to a spokeswoman.

"Our hearts go out to this family, and to all the children and families affected by the Newtown shootings," Jepsen said in a statement. "They deserve a thoughtful and deliberate examination of the causes of this tragedy and of the appropriate public policy responses."

By law, any claim against the state must be approved by the state claims commissioner before it can move forward. The state attorney general serves as the state's defense attorney.

"The Office of the Claims Commissioner is not the appropriate venue for that important and complex discussion," Jepsen said in his statement.

"Although the investigation is still under way, we are aware of no facts or legal theory under which the state of Connecticut should be liable for causing the harms inflicted at Sandy Hook Elementary School," he said.

According to the claim, the unidentified child heard "cursing, screaming, and shooting" over the school intercom when the gunman, 20-year-old Adam Lanza, opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Pinsky's claim said the state Board of Education, Department of Education and education commissioner failed to take appropriate steps to protect children from "foreseeable harm" and had failed to provide a "safe school setting."

Pinsky said last week he was approached by the child's parents within a week of the shooting.

Lanza shot and killed his mother and took his own life as well, police said, in the violence which has prompted extensive debate about gun control and the suggestion by the National Rifle Association that schools be patrolled by armed guards.