Judge rules Oxford employees can’t be sued in school shooting

Posted at 11:26 AM, March 6, 2023 and last updated 5:55 PM, May 11, 2023

By: Peter Maxwell

DETROIT (WXYZ) — It’s been just over 15 months since the deadly shooting at Oxford High School that took the lives of four students.

FILE – The American flag flies at half-staff on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, outside of Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich.  (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP, File)

Since then, several lawsuits have been filed against both the district and its employees with the hope of some change being made.

However, a judge ruled that those employees are no longer facing legal action and cannot be sued in connection to the shooting.

It comes as the next phase in the trial for the shooter’s parents – James and Jennifer Crumbley – is set to begin in court.

The victims and their families in the case say they will be appealing the ruling. The argument the families and victims claim is that school officials and employees violated the child protection law when it comes to the shooter.

This law requires people to report child abuse and neglect by a certain party or persons in the protection of children who are being abused and neglected.

In multiple lawsuits, they claim more than half a dozen school officials and employees knew about the incidents involving the shooter and allegedly ignored the clear warning signs exhibited by the shooter and were grossly negligent and the direct cause of injury.

Photographs of four students —Hana St. Juliana, 14, Madisyn Baldwin, 17, Tate Myre, 16 and Justin Shilling, 17 — sit among bouquets of flowers, teddy bears and other personal items left at the memorial site on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021 outside Oxford High School in Oxford, Mich. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)

However, Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Mary Ellen Brennan said the court concludes that, “Ethan Crumbley’s act of firing the gun, rather than the alleged conduct of the individual Oxford defendants, was ‘the one most immediate, efficient and direct cause of the injury or damage.'”

This ruling does not apply to the shooter who is facing life in prison and who already pleaded guilty to terrorism charges causing death and first-degree murder, along with 24 additional charges. His parents are charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Attorney Ven Jonson said his clients are deeply saddened and disappointed in Brennan’s dismissal of the lawsuit, but they’ll be appealing the decision.

This story was originally published March 6 by WXYZ in Detroit, an E.W. Scripps Company.