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Battle is joined over cap on tort damages

Armed with two $4-million verdicts against the state, lawyers for families of Virginia Tech shooting victims are seeking to avoid the $100,000 cap on recovery under the Virginia Tort Claims Act.

Under the law, the cap is raised to the maximum limits of any applicable liability policy, and the families’ lawyers want to explore what insurance policies were in place to protect Virginia Tech officials.

Lawyers for the state responded that the state was the only defendant at trial, so policies for other entities are irrelevant.

No hearing has yet been scheduled on the cap arguments, according to the judge’s legal assistant.

Montgomery County Circuit Court jurors ruled March 14 that the state was negligent when Virginia Tech officials delayed alerting the campus of the first two shootings by a gunman who ultimately killed 32 and himself. It was the most deadly mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The jury awarded the families of two slain students $4 million each, but the state asked the trial judge to enforce the $100,000 cap on claims against the state.

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