I knew it was coming, but it still made me sick to see it.
“Newtown First Grader Seeks $100 Million Compensation” blared the newspaper headline.
Yep, sure enough — a lawyer had filed a $100 million claim on behalf of a student who was traumatized by hearing cursing, screaming and shooting over the school intercom when Adam Lanza opened fire in the Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 students and six adults.
And who was the suit filed against?
Why the school of course, claiming the school had failed to take appropriate steps to protect children from “foreseeable harm,” failed to provide a “safe school setting” or design “an effective student safety emergency response plan and protocol.”
Even though I was expecting it, the news still struck me like a punch in the stomach. Children and adults were murdered, and these parents were looking to make a little — a lot — of money because their student heard what was happening. What would they have wanted if their child had been hurt?
Public outcry caused the lawyer to temporarily withdraw the petition.
“I was getting hundreds of (Facebook) comments” about the potential lawsuit. “So I figured I’d take (the request) off the table for now,” he said.
Little Jill Doe’s parents are not alone in looking at a tragedy like a monetary windfall. Lawsuits have been filed against the Aurora, Colo., movie theater where another armed madman killed and wounded dozens at a midnight showing in July. They charged the theater of not providing property security and claimed “readily available security procedures, security equipment and security personnel would likely have prevented or deterred the gunman from accomplishing his planned assault on the theater’s patrons,” the law firm said in a statement.
Sure, everyone knows there should be airport security systems at every theater in the country.
I am not anti-lawyer, and I believe in the right to file lawsuits. But it’s suit like these that give lawyers — and plaintiffs — a bad name.
How can anyone hope to profit financially from an evil act?
While I am disgusted by the greed some people display, I am heartened by the fact that this greed still raises an outcry among most Americans. We might be blase to many of the faults in modern life, but people still speak out against simple money grubbing.
When tragedies like these happen, I can understand a desire to do something, to make somebody pay for the hurt that has been inflicted.
But after we review and debate our safety procedures, care for the wounded and mourn the dead, all we can do is ponder the nature of evil.
And nobody should get rich while doing it.
BCR Staff Writer Barb Kromphardt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.