Rocky Mountain News

HomeNewsLocal News

How Columbine lawsuits have fared

Published August 21, 2002 at midnight

The Columbine High School shootings spawned 16 federal lawsuits. Most have been dismissed.

Only one remaining suit, filed by injured student Patrick Ireland, challenges the Jefferson County sheriff's response to the shootings. Ireland sued law enforcement officials on grounds that their delayed entrance into the school deprived him of prompt medical attention. A federal judge threw out the case. Ireland's appeal to the 10th Circuit is pending.

Eleven families of slain and injured victims settled in June for $15,000 each from the county and $15,000 from the Jefferson County School District.

The families of slain students Daniel Rohrbough and Kelly Fleming also sued the school district for refusing to display tiles they painted with religious themes after the Columbine attack, as part of a healing and school decorating program involving hundreds of people in the community. A federal judge ruled after a trial that the school had to display the tiles, but the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling, ending the case.

The wife and two stepdaughters of Dave Sanders sued video-game giants Nintendo of America, Sega of America Inc., Sony Computer Entertainment and Atari Corp., along with entertainment conglomerate Time Warner Inc. and a number of other entertainment companies. Most of the claims have been thrown out by a federal judge.

Sanders' wife and the families of injured students Mark Taylor, Evan Todd and Brian Anderson, and slain student Cory DePooter, sued Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc., manufacturer of the antidepressant drug Luvox, which shooter Eric Harris had been taking but had stopped taking before the shootings. They contend side effects of the drug contributed to the attack. Most plaintiffs withdrew their claims, leaving only Mark Taylor to pursue the case. It is pending.

Many families also settled suits with the parents of Harris and Dylan Klebold and the young people who helped the teens obtain guns, whose insurance provided more than $2 million. A retired federal judge divided the money among the victims in amounts which have not been disclosed. Six families have not settled and have suits pending against the Klebold and Harris families.

Back to Top

Search »