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Trial against Tech officials delayed

A discovery dispute has led a judge to split the claims in the two $10-million wrongful death lawsuits arising from the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, according to lawyers in the case.

Two sets of allegations were included in the lawsuits filed by families of two students killed in the rampage. The contention that Virginia Tech officials, including VT President Charles Steger, improperly hesitated to issue a prompt warning after the first campus shooting has been postponed for trial.

Judge William Alexander continued the trial based on claims by plaintiffs’ lawyer Bob Hall that Tech’s public relations firms have dragged their feet on producing evidence. “Discovery has been plagued by delay and deception,” Hall wrote in a motion for a continuance.

Still scheduled for a jury next month is the claim that mental health staffers failed to properly respond to the shooter’s mental problems two years before the shooting.

Hall’s motion for continuance disclosed evidence suggesting Tech officials – or their PR agencies – sought to deflect criticism by spreading false information about the investigation of the initial shooting incident on April 16, 2007. Hall said he needs more time to follow leads.

Meanwhile, lawyers for Tech officials complained that Hall has delayed the progress of motions, according to The Roanoke Times.

“We will try to get it set as soon as possible, depending on the availability of counsel, parties, and witnesses,” said a spokesman for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.  “We should have a new trial date for this claim in a couple of days,” Brian Gottstein said.

By Peter Vieth

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