The Utah Supreme Court released an opinion that injury attorneys in Utah can try the lawsuit brought by the family of 15-year-old high school student, Tucker Thayer, who was killed when handling a gun loaded with blank cartridges used in the school play. The injury attorneys in Utah are seeking damages for the Thayer family for wrongful death and negligence.
Utah has a criminal statute with penalties for those who possess firearms on school grounds. But if a responsible school administrator approved the possession of the firearm, the person MAY be excused from criminal liability.
The school district tried to assert governmental immunity from the claims of negligence in allowing the gun on campus to be used in the musical. The injury attorneys in Utah claim governmental immunity should not apply and that the gun and blanks were left unattended when they never should have been.
After review, the Utah Supreme Court found that the school district did not have immunity and the injury attorneys in Utah could continue to try the case. The court held that the authorization by the school’s resource officer from the St. George Police Department and the vice principal allowing the presence of the gun on campus was “not a formal, official authorization by a governmental body or employee endowed with regulatory power to issues such an authorization.”
Additionally, the court said, “a governmental entity such as the school district may not insulate itself from suit by routinely authorizing and approving the negligent conduct of its employees.”
This was not a final ruling about the outcome of the prop gun case, but a step toward getting it started. Now the injury attorneys in Utah can continue trying the case before the federal court.
To find out more about the case go to: http://www.ksl.com/?nid=960&sid=20565824 or www.utcourts.gov/opinions/supopin/Thayer052512.pdf
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