The Captain's Log

The Student News Site of Christopher Newport University

The Captain's Log

The Captain's Log

A continued fight toward justice

Abby Zwerner’s lawsuit moves forward

It’s been 10 months since a six-year-old boy used his mother’s gun to intentionally shoot his teacher, Abby Zwerner, in the chest. The shooting received international attention and the events following have continued to make headlines. Just this past week, a judge declared that Abby Zwerner’s lawsuit against Newport News Public Schools could go to trial.

 

Zwerner’s attorney announced the intent to sue Newport News Public Schools and three former district employees (former Richneck Elementary Assistant Principal Ebony Parker, former Newport News School Superintendent Dr. George Parker, III, and former Richneck Elementary Principal Briana Foster Newton) for damages of $40 million. The basis for the lawsuit is that the school administrative staff ignored Zwerner and other teachers’ repeated alerts that the student may have a firearm and was threatening in the hours leading up to the shooting. The administration allegedly denied one of the teachers permission to search the armed student’s backpack and told them to “wait it out”. 

 

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Pender and Coward, the law firm representing NNPS, Parker, and Newton filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in April. The motion alleges that Zwerner’s claims in her suit fall under the Virginian Workers Compensation Act and therefore not something that can be handled by the Circuit Court. The firm has also claimed Zwerner declined to take the workmen’s compensation prior to her resignation in June. Zwerner’s legal team slammed the motion, saying “No one believes that a first-grade teacher should expect that one of the risks of teaching first grade is that you might get shot by a six-year-old.”

 

On November 3rd, a judge agreed with Zwerner’s legal team and said that Zwerner’s suit could proceed, saying that a gunshot injury “did not arise out of her employment as a first-grade teacher”. Zwerner’s legal team praised the decision, saying “This victory is an important stepping stone on our path towards justice for Abby…”. The school board’s attorneys said they plan to appeal the decision.

 

As far as legal charges, the only person charged with anything from the shooting is Deja Taylor, the shooter’s mother, who pled guilty to felony child neglect in August and is expected to be sentenced soon.

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