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Thread: I got an email from Va Tech President Charles W. Steger

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    Accomplished Advocate user's Avatar
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    I got a "Dear Virginia Tech friends and family" email from president@vt.edutelling me about how Va. Tech. is "inventing the future", and inviting me to look at their flash video at http://www.reports.president.vt.edu/2009_year_in_review; here's the response I emailed back:

    Is the University still maintaining a policy that prohibits properly qualified adult students, staff members,and professors from lawfully defending themselves against armed assailants? I take the position that if the University is requiring that persons legitimatelyon campus be defenseless, then the University has actively assumed an absoluteduty to protect all such persons. Aside from the moral issue of causing the death and injury of defenseless people whom one has assumed a duty to protect,I observe thatany negligent breach of that duty resulting in actual damages will, of course, be actionable.
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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    Regular Member SouthernBoy's Avatar
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    user wrote:
    I got a "Dear Virginia Tech friends and family" email from president@vt.edutelling me about how Va. Tech. is "inventing the future", and inviting me to look at their flash video at http://www.reports.president.vt.edu/2009_year_in_review; here's the response I emailed back:

    Is the University still maintaining a policy that prohibits properly qualified adult students, staff members,and professors from lawfully defending themselves against armed assailants? I take the position that if the University is requiring that persons legitimatelyon campus be defenseless, then the University has actively assumed an absoluteduty to protect all such persons. Aside from the moral issue of causing the death and injury of defenseless people whom one has assumed a duty to protect,I observe thatany negligent breach of that duty resulting in actual damages will, of course, be actionable.
    I believe this approach has been tried in other states under other circumstances (businesses, etc.). Do you know if any challenges by injured parties have actually come to litigation over this and have they been successful under the conditions you have outlined here?

    In the final seconds of your life, just before your killer is about to dispatch you to that great eternal darkness, what would you rather have in your hand? A cell phone or a gun?

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    Regular Member kennys's Avatar
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    That is something I would like to know as well. I understand giving private property or business owners the choice as to what goes on in their business.

    Saying that, if they wish to disarm their costumers making it impossible in some cases for the law abidingto defend them selves, if they do not have adequate means of protecting their patrons and something happens. Than there should be some law that they could be held accountable. This is not just including inside the premises but as well from their vehicle to the door and back again.

    I believe most places would not go for this because ifrestaurants that sold alcohol did this, than they having first hand knowledge of over the limit drivers leaving there property they could face a world of problems. As it is now the less they know what goes on in the parking lot the better.

    In a way this would be a win situation in any matter.One it would be easier and cheaper for them to allow lawful carry which could change a lot of businesses attitudes but if not than they would take more responsibility for putting drunks on the street because they would have to pay more attention to what goes on outside the doors.



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    kennys wrote:
    ...
    I believe most places would not go for this because ifrestaurants that sold alcohol did this, than they having first hand knowledge of over the limit drivers leaving there property they could face a world of problems. As it is now the less they know what goes on in the parking lot the better....

    That's a good example. Restaurants that serve alcohol are responsible for what happens if a drunken patron assaults someone else within the restaurant. They have a duty to keep order and not to serve anyone alcohol to excess (in the place of business - outside is a different matter).

    In addition,all retailestablishments owe the highest level of duty to "business invitees" - people who are lured in by the promise of trade and commerce. That doesn't make them an "insurer" of the safety of the patrons, such that they're strictly liable for what happens (acts of God or other third parties, for example). But where a condition that exists that they had reason to know about (mayonnaise on the Safeway floor, for example) and did nothing to either warn the patrons or fix the problem, then they're liable for the negligent breach of the duty of care owed to business invitees.

    When one opens a retail establishment up to the public, generally (and Costco, despite its membership hogwash, is doing just that), he makes it possible for third parties to take actions to harm the happy shoppers. If the happy shoppers are armed, themselves, and not defenseless, then the "third parties" exception to the business invitee rule applies - the business isn't liable for the acts of third parties over whom it has no control. But if, through its own actions, the business either causes or exacerbates the threatened harm, then it is just as liable as the third party.

    The leap I'm making is to suggest that making the patrons defenseless makes the threat worse, and in so doing, the business is actively co-operating with the criminals to harm the shoppers. The point of view that's appropriate is that of the shopper, who only has to know that he's been harmed, and everyone who contributed to that harm is liable. It's as if Costco or Safeway had a policy of not cleaning the mayonnaise up off the floor, but leaving it there until someone slips and busts their punkin' heads wide open.

    When a governmental agency is operated as a business or quasi-business, in order to do nongovernmental functions, that agency loses its "sovereign immunity". That's because it's operating as a "proprietary function" rather than a "ministerial function". Such an agency can be constrained by exactly the same standard of care owed to business invitees, and I'd argue that a state college or university is such an agency. People pay money to buy services. It's not an exercise of the police power, taxation authority, etc., but a retail business.

    These are my opinions, by the way, I haven't doneany case research on the issue for a good while.

    As to standards of care, fyi: one ordinarily owes no duty to a trespassor except that one may not "wantonly or willfully injure" the trespassor. No spring guns, pit traps, etc. The only duty one owes to an ordinary licensee (i.e., someone you permit to come on your property, such as dinner guests) is to warn them of known dangers, especially hidden or nonobvious dangers. The business invitee rule represents the highest level of duty.


    "Negligence" is defined as the careless, reckless, or negligent breach of a duty to another person, resulting in genuine harm, damages, or injuries to the other person, andwhere the breach of duty "proximately", or actuallycaused the other person's harm, damages, or injuries. "Proximate cause" means that which was the efficient cause and close in time and space; i.e., not remote or indirect.
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    SouthernBoy wrote:
    user wrote:
    I got a "Dear Virginia Tech friends and family" email from president@vt.edutelling me about how Va. Tech. is "inventing the future", and inviting me to look at their flash video at http://www.reports.president.vt.edu/2009_year_in_review; here's the response I emailed back:

    Is the University still maintaining a policy that prohibits properly qualified adult students, staff members,and professors from lawfully defending themselves against armed assailants? I take the position that if the University is requiring that persons legitimatelyon campus be defenseless, then the University has actively assumed an absoluteduty to protect all such persons. Aside from the moral issue of causing the death and injury of defenseless people whom one has assumed a duty to protect,I observe thatany negligent breach of that duty resulting in actual damages will, of course, be actionable.
    I believe this approach has been tried in other states under other circumstances (businesses, etc.). Do you know if any challenges by injured parties have actually come to litigation over this and have they been successful under the conditions you have outlined here?
    From what I remember, all, or nearly all the victims and/or surviving families of the VT murders settled prior to litigation. That would seem to say that the VT laywers felt they would indeed be held liable to at least some extent.

    I guess those settlements were kept secret, but as a state school, why wouldn't they be subject to FOIA? If we knew the amounts of those settlements, that would give us 1) a very good idea of just how liable they thought they might be, and probably even more important 2) a big hammer to use to convince VT and all other colleges around the country to change their policies!

    TFred


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    I don't know for sure, but I made a lot of noise at the time about exactly the same argument. I had the idea, unconfirmed, that it influenced the state's decision to settle. I was telling everyone who'd listen that if I could get one witness who was present at the time andwho'd say he'd had a permit and would have been carrying if the U. had let him, then I'd have a good case for wrongful death for at least half the victims' familes. Negligent failure to protect. I think it's a pretty good cause of action; I don't generally do plaintiff's cases, but I'd do that one.
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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    Regular Member simmonsjoe's Avatar
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    I've always made the logic argument that Rights incur Responsibilities.

    So, if you ban firearms from your property(right), you are responsible for the consequences.
    illegal ≠ immoral legal ≠ moral
    [SIZE=1]"I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. "Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent." - Thomas Jefferson
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    simmonsjoe wrote:
    I've always made the logic argument that Rights incur Responsibilities.

    So, if you ban firearms from your property(right), you are responsible for the consequences.
    There has been some talk recommending a law wherein the business, school et al would be liable for your injury or death if their rules/policies disarmed you( the law abiding citizen) and there were such an event where injury/death occurred.

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    Oddly enough, I have yet to hear back from him.

    Do you think he's ignoring me?
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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    Duh??????? Ya think???

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    Regular Member sccrref's Avatar
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    Follow up with another email asking him if he received your reply and that you are awaiting his response. Keep sending it often until he replies.

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    And add that his lack of response is influencing your contributions to VT endowments.
    ---

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    Regular Member TFred's Avatar
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    rlh2005 wrote:
    And add that his lack of response is influencing your contributions to VT endowments.
    And maybe even better, write the folks who are responsible for those endowments, or other areas that you may have contributed to in the past, and tell them that your contributions will stop until the president addresses this issue in a manner to your satisfaction.

    He can ignore individual alumni, but when the folks in charge of raising his money start to complain, I bet he'll suddenly develop better hearing.

    TFred


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    Now, THOSE are some brilliant suggestions!
    Daniel L. Hawes - 540 347 2430 - HTTP://www.VirginiaLegalDefense.com

    By the way, nothing I say on this website as "user" should be taken as either advertising for attorney services or legal advice, merely personal opinion. Everyone having a question regarding the application of law to the facts of their situation should seek the advice of an attorney competent in the subject matter of the issues presented and licensed to practice in the relevant state.

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