Oxford school district responds to civil lawsuit, denies any negligence

Officials at Oxford Community Schools file defenses in response to lawsuit

Attorneys for Oxford Community Schools denied negligence in regards to a lawsuit brought against the district by survivors of the Nov. 30 shooting.

Oxford school officials are denying any negligence in the moments leading up to the deadly mass shooting last November, according to a new court filing.

Suspected shooter Ethan Crumbley, 15, a faces murder and 20 other felonies in the shooting at Oxford High School that killed four students and injured seven other people.

Southfield attorney Geoffrey Fieger filed a $100 million lawsuit last year on behalf of some survivors, accusing the Oxford Community Schools district and its staff of not doing enough to prevent the shooting. In January, that lawsuit was amended to add 11 new counts against the district.

Related: Oxford schools superintendent ‘clarifies’ incidents before, after mass shooting

A new document filed on Feb. 4 outlines the arguments of Oxford Community Schools in response to the civil lawsuit. Local 4′s legal expert Neil Rockind said the district’s response is just part of the legal process, but it may be hard for people to take in.

“If you’re not a lawyer and you’re not familiar with the legalese and the legal process, people are looking at this and are going to go ‘Wait, what?’” Rockind said.

He said there are inconsistencies in the defenses that were laid out by the district.

The document reads, in part, saying “all actions of their agents, servants and/or employees were careful, prudent, proper, and lawful.” Then, further into the document, there’s another point that reads, “Oxford Community Schools cannot be held vicariously liable for its employees’ actions.”

“This document, when you read it, it’s very hard to sort of envision what is the actual defense that the Oxford Community School District is asserting but when you look at it; essentially they’re asserting everything,” Rockind said. “They are asserting every possible defense.”

The district’s defense may rub people the wrong way, especially for the parents who are filing the lawsuit, and parents who are still sending their children to Oxford High School.

“In a case like this, which is so close to home, so close to the heart and strikes at the heart, these defenses -- although they’re lawfully pled -- are going to be something that jurors are going to look at, and the public’s going to look at and think ‘There’s something not right here,’” Rockind said.

According to Rockind, the document filed Friday also brings up a bigger argument of accountability.

“I think to some degree, you’re going to see members of the public clamoring to change the way that school districts and government entities are able to be held accountable, and they’re going to make them more accountable,” Rockind said.

More: Oxford High School students, parents sue school staff, Crumbley family in wake of mass shooting

About the Author:

Megan Woods is thrilled to be back home and reporting at Local 4. She joined the team in September 2021. Before returning to Michigan, Megan reported at stations across the country including Northern Michigan, Southwest Louisiana and a sister station in Southwest Virginia.