The family of a student who was shot during a deadly school shooting in Oxford, Michigan, last week filed two lawsuits Thursday against the school district and several school employees. The lawsuits, which seek $100 million in damages, say the defendants’ actions prior to the shooting “created the danger and increased the risk of harm that their students would be exposed to.”
“The individually named Defendants are each responsible through their actions for making the student victims less safe,” the lawsuit states. “The Oxford High School students, and Plaintiffs in particular, would have been safer had the Individual Defendants not taken the actions they did.”
On November 30, student Ethan Crumbley allegedly opened fire at Oxford High School, killing four people and wounding seven others. The 15-year-old suspect faces 24 charges, including one count of terrorism causing death and four counts of first-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty. His parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, also face four involuntary manslaughter charges and pleaded not guilty.
Riley Franz, 17, was shot in the neck, the lawsuit states. Her 14-year-old sister Bella, who is also a student, “narrowly escaped the bullets discharged towards her.” The lawsuits, filed by attorney Geoffrey Fieger on behalf of the sisters’ parents, Jeffrey and Brandi Franz, claim both students now suffer from emotional injuries as a result of the incident, including severe trauma, post-traumatic stress disorder, fright, shock, terror and anxiety.
Following the shooting, investigators said a “mountain of digital evidence” — including a video the suspect made the night before the shooting where he mentioned killing students and a social media post in which the suspect displayed the gun believed to have been used in the attack — suggests it was premeditated. A journal found in Crumbley’s backpack detailed his desire to “shoot up the school,” according to officials.
The lawsuits accuse each defendant of violating the 14th Amendment, which grants citizens equal protection of the law. The Franz family alleges that school officials failed to expel, discipline or supervise Crumbley or notify police about his social media posts and threatening messages, and thus encouraged the incident. They also accuse Oxford High School’s principal and superintendent of inadequately training and supervising school employees, which “cultivated the conduct” that then violated the Franz sisters’ rights.
“Riley Franz was shot in the neck as a direct result of each and every one of the within enumerated actions of Defendants’,” the lawsuit states.
As well as financial damages, the lawsuit also seeks a trial by jury.
In the wake of the shooting, superintendent Timothy Throne released a statement saying the district has been “primarily focused on helping our students, families, staff members, and community get resources to professionally trained crisis counselors and trauma therapists.”
“At the same time, we have been and will continue to be fully cooperative with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office with their investigation. We haven’t been able to say more because this is an on-going investigation,” he wrote on Wednesday. “We do not have all the facts and cannot interfere with the prosecutorial investigation. We know this has caused frustration and anger but we are doing our best under difficult circumstances.”