First Federal Lawsuit Filed in Texas Over Uvalde School Shooting

The lawsuit alleges a violation of due process rights, negligence, emotional distress and other violations

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What to Know

  • Parents whose children survived the Robb Elementary School Shooting in Uvalde filed a federal lawsuit in Del Rio, Texas.
  • The federal lawsuit was filed against eight entities and three individuals.
  • The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages from each defendant, but the school district and city are exempt.

A federal lawsuit has been filed in Del Rio, Texas, against eight entities and three individuals for the May shooting that killed 19 students and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.

The lawsuit, first reported by the San Antonio Express-News, was filed Wednesday by one parent whose child was wounded in the shooting and two parents whose children were on campus at the time. Attorneys for the parents say it is the first federal lawsuit related to the attack.

"The horrors of May 24, 2022, were only possible because so many in positions of power were negligent, careless, and reckless," according to a statement from Stephanie B. Sherman, one of two attorneys representing the parents. "[The victims] have to carry that trauma for the rest of their lives. It’s an invisible wound. They don’t feel comfortable going out into their community, into their environment.”

"We are already hearing that many (students) are scared for their lives," said Monique Alarcon, the other attorney for the parents. "This case is about ensuring that they have access to the care and resources they need."

The 83-page lawsuit alleges a violation of due process rights, negligence, emotional distress and other violations by the Uvalde school district, the city, firearms maker Daniel Defense, gun dealer Oasis Outback and firearms accessory maker Firequest International.

"This is a community that feels lost, that they were let down. And it was sort of a domino effect of errors," said Sherman.

Also named are radio communication device maker Motorola Solutions, door locking maker Schneider Electric USA, fired school Police Chief Pete Arredondo, and suspended police Lt. Mariano Pargas, who was acting city Police Chief at the time.

The police response to the shooting was sharply criticized as nearly 400 officers responded, but waited more than an hour before confronting and killing the gunman.

School Principal Mandy Gutierrez, who was reinstated three days after being suspended when she rebutted a sharply critical legislative committee report alleging a "culture of complacency" at the school, is also named in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges Motorola's products failed to operate inside the school, "leaving first responders without information communicated from dispatch and/or other first responders," and that "Schneider Electric's doors failed to lock as designed after being shut."

The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages from each defendant but the school district and the city, which are exempted by state law from such awards.

The defendants declined comment or did not return messages on Thursday.

“The message of the lawsuit is, we need accountability,” Sherman said. “We need school districts, police, everyone to take our safety more seriously.”

The school district released a statement Thursday in response to ongoing protests outside administrative offices:

"Uvalde CISD remains open to a continued dialogue to address questions and concerns with a scheduled meeting," the statement read. "The administration extended an opportunity to meet with individual protesters at central office; however, the offer was refused.”

“While we will continue attempts to meet with individuals to address their concerns, our focus remains on supporting our students, staff, and families throughout the recovery process…” the statement continued.

Robb Elementary students returned to school earlier this month on different campuses.

Currently, there’s an independent review into the actions of the school district’s police department, but school officials say there is no expected completion date of that review.

Copyright Associated Press
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