Judge rules Oxford Schools employees can't be sued civilly for mass shooting
FOX 2 (WJBK) - An Oakland County Circuit Court judge has ruled that Oxford Community Schools employees cannot be sued civilly in the mass shooting from November 2021.
Judge Mary Ellen Brennan issued a public opinion based on governmental immunity, dismissing all "Oxford governmental employees and entities" from civil lawsuits regarding the shooting, which killed four students and injured six others as well as a teacher.
The ruling concludes that teen gunman Ethan Crumbley "was the most immediate and direct cause of the mass shooting" (Read the full decision at bottom of story)
Attorney Ven Johnson had been championing the civil lawsuit cause and issued a statement - claiming the victims he represents "have been victimized again."
"On behalf of our Oxford clients, we are deeply saddened and disappointed by Judge Brennan’s dismissal today of all the Oxford Community Schools defendants. We maintain that governmental immunity is wrong and unconstitutional, and the law should be changed immediately.
"We call on the Michigan Legislature to change this law now. As for this civil case, we will appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals, where we will argue that the increased burden of proof imposed on victims who have been injured by governmental employees, namely gross negligence and the proximate cause, violates equal protection under the law, and often, like here, deprives victims of their right to a jury trial.
Under the law, everyone should be treated the same. No one should have more rights than others just because they work for the government. If this shooting happened at a private school, this case would be sent to trial and none of these defenses would exist."
Previously, FOX 2 has reported that one of the drawings that Ethan Crumbley made concerned his teachers to the point they tried notifying faculty at Oxford High School appeared to show a portrait of the teenager holding a firearm and pointing it. Another object could be a magazine.
Johnson has levied harsh criticisms against both the district as well as Shawn Hopkins the counselor and Nicholas Ejak the dean of students. Last September Johnson attempted to paint a picture of gross negligence that led to the deaths of Madyson Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16, Justin Shilling, 17, and Hanna St. Juliana, 14.
Related: Attorney suing Oxford Schools criticizes staff for missing multiple red flags
The drawing was made on the back of a notecard as part of school assignment given at the beginning of the year. It was one of multiple examples of Crumbley's actions that worried his teachers, leading to them sending their concerns to the school counselor, dean of students, and other faculty.
Oxford attorney Timothy Mullins previously argued that the school officials, including teachers who interacted with Crumbley before the shooting, are not responsible for what happened.
"Plaintiffs’ complaints begin by alleging that (Ethan Crumbley) was a preexisting danger to shoot students at school long before Defendants’ involvement. This is based on EC’s alleged actions at home, and not at school," Mullins wrote in the motion.
Mullins notes some allegations, including that Crumbley kept a bird head in a jar and told a friend he had access to a gun and would shoot up the school. He said these do not involve the district because district employees were unaware.
"Plaintiffs, however, do not allege that Defendants had any knowledge of these alleged acts. Plaintiffs also do not allege that EC committed any of these acts while at school. The Oxford Defendants were not aware of any of these behaviors," he wrote.
The Oxford School District declined multiple offers by the state Attorney General to conduct an investigation into the shooting, instead going with a third party firm to look into the events leading up to Nov. 30.