Court to hear Martinsville school shooting case

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. (WISH) – On Wednesday, the Indiana Court of Appeals will hear a lawsuit over the March 2011 shootings at Martinsville West Middle School in Martinsville.

Students Chance Jackson and Brandon Kent were injured in the shooting; the shooter was identified as former student Michael Phelps.

Jackson and Kent later filed a lawsuit against the school district saying it failed to keep them safe.

In response, the school district said it’s not liable under Indiana law, and it says the shootings were not foreseeable.

The district asked a judge to throw out the suit. That request was denied, and the case heads to appeals court Wednesday.

While this works its way through the system, 24-Hour News 8 looked at other similar cases.

One is from April 1999, when the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., left 13 dead before the gunmen killed themselves.

In all, 17 lawsuits were filed naming the school, police, the shooter’s parents and others responsible.

Some suits were dismissed, others were settled, but most remain confidential.

Then, in December 2012, the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., left 20 students and six teachers dead before the shooter took his own life.

Only one lawsuit was filed on behalf of a 6-year-old girl who survived.

Her attorney said the state failed to protect her from “foreseeable harm.”

That suit was later withdrawn after of public outcry claimed the suit attempted to profit from the tragedy.

To date, no other lawsuits have been filed in Newtown.

Wednesday’s hearing on the Martinsville case starts at 1:30 p.m.

Attorneys on both sides will present their case, but it’s not known when the judges will make a decision.

Stay with WISH-TV for developments.

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