First federal lawsuit filed in Texas over Uvalde school shooting

Plaintiffs in case claim breach of due process rights, emotional distress and negligence

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A federal lawsuit has been filed against eight entities and three people over the May shooting that killed 19 pupils and two teachers at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

The lawsuit, first reported by The San Antonio Express-News, was filed on Wednesday in US District Court in Del Rio by one parent whose child was wounded in the shooting and two parents whose children were on campus at the time.

Lawyers for the parents say it is the first federal lawsuit related to the attack.

“The horrors of May 24, 2022, were only possible because so many in positions of power were negligent, careless and reckless,” a statement from Stephanie Sherman, one of the lawyers representing the parents, said.

“We are already hearing that many [pupils] are scared for their lives,” said Monique Alarcon, the other lawyer for the parents. “This case is about ensuring that they have access to the care and resources they need.”

The lawsuit alleges a breach of due process rights, negligence emotional distress and other infractions by the Uvalde school district, the city, firearms maker Daniel Defence, gun dealer Oasis Outback and firearms accessory maker Firequest International.

Also named are radio communication device maker Motorola Solutions, door-lock maker Schneider Electric USA, fired school police chief Pete Arredondo, suspended police Lt Mariano Pargas, who was acting city police chief at the time.

The police response to the shooting was sharply criticised, as nearly 400 officers responded but waited more than an hour before confronting and killing the gunman.

School principal Mandy Gutierrez, who was reinstated three days after being suspended when she rebutted a sharply critical legislative committee report alleging a “culture of complacency” at the school, is also named in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges Motorola’s products failed to operate inside the school, “leaving first responders without information communicated from dispatch and/or other first responders” and that “Schneider Electric’s doors failed to lock as designed after being shut”.

The accused declined to comment or did not return messages to The Associated Press on Thursday.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages from each of the accused except the school district and the city, which are exempted by state law from such awards.

Updated: September 30, 2022, 6:03 PM