Do Unique Virginia Laws Protect Virginia Tech in a Potential Liability Case?: Legal Expert Available to Address Key Elements of Liability in Virginia Tech Tragedy

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In the wake of the Virginia Tech tragedy, Americans are questioning what could have been done to prevent such a massive loss of human life. Sorrow is mixed with anger as students, their families and the public debate whether a different response by Virginia Tech's administrators could have prevented the second deadly round of attacks. But the question of liability regarding institutional sovereign immunity in the Commonwealth of Virginia remains to be addressed by the media.

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    According to Virginia attorney and legal security expert, William D. Breit, "Sovereign Immunity essentially means that Virginia Tech cannot be sued, except under certain provisions in the Virginia Tort Claims Act. In other words, under Virginia law the school may only be held liable under limited circumstances unique to the Commonwealth."

The issue in people's minds of whether the students at Norris Hall could have been spared if the university responded differently may also prove to be a contentious legal issue. Ordinarily, under Virginia law, Virginia Tech would not be responsible for the criminal assault committed by a student. However, in Virginia there are unique exceptions to this rule that may make the school responsible for failing to take appropriate action.

Breit has argued similar cases of third party liability in a criminal assault before the Commonwealth of Virginia Supreme Court. He is available to comment on the public debate regarding legal issues unique to Virginia that the university may face and how the courts would determine whether Virginia Tech could be held accountable for the tragedy.

Questions that Breit is available to discuss include:

-- What are the key liability issues facing the university?

-- Is Virginia Tech responsible for criminal assaults committed on campus by third parties?

-- Is Virginia Tech entitled to sovereign immunity, a recognized legal doctrine in the Commonwealth of Virginia?

-- Did they have actual notice that a crime was being committed on their property and did they fail to take necessary precautions?

To schedule an interview or television appearance with Mr. Breit, please call (757)575-1255.

About William D. Breit

William D. Breit earned his Juris Doctor from The College of William and Mary and has been practicing law in the Commonwealth of Virginia for 29 years. As a trial lawyer, Breit specializes in security cases including the liability of third parties for criminal assaults. Breit has argued before the Virginia Supreme Court, including the Commonwealth's landmark case on third party criminal liability (Wright v Webb- 233 VA 527, 1987). Mr Breit is a member of the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association and the American Trial Lawyers Association. He has lectured extensively and has been named among "The Best Lawyers in America" for personal injury litigation.

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Beverley Mason
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