City to pay $5M to settle lawsuit over fatal school stabbing
MILFORD, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut city will pay $5 million to the family of a teenage girl stabbed to death at her high school to settle a lawsuit alleging the district did not properly respond to threats posed by the killer, attorneys for the plaintiffs said Friday.
The wrongful death lawsuit against Milford was filed by the mother of Maren Sanchez, the 16-year-old student slain by a classmate inside Jonathan Law High School on April 25, 2014. Police alleged Christopher Plaskon was upset Sanchez rejected his prom invitation — a claim disputed by his lawyer. Plaskon pleaded no contest to murder and is serving a 25-year prison sentence.
The lawsuit said Sanchez had told her guidance counselor that Plaskon had threatened to kill himself, and she worried he might be a danger to himself or others, and the district did not do enough in response.
An attorney for the estate of Maren Sanchez, David Golub, said the settlement reflects the importance of compliance with violence-prevention policies.
“Especially in these times where violence in schools is so prevalent, the school personnel’s failure to comply with the mandatory provisions of the district’s policy was inexcusable. This tragedy did not have to occur,” Golub said.
Sanchez’s mother, Donna Cimarelli, said in a prepared statement that she is focusing on a foundation established in her daughter’s name to educate and empower young women.
“The physical loss of such a vibrant, loving, magnificent magical soul that was Maren is something that no lawsuit can ever make up for,” Cimarelli said.
The office of legal counsel for the city of Milford said nobody was available immediately to comment on the settlement.
In November 2013, Sanchez told her guidance counselor that Plaskon had threatened to kill himself, the lawsuit said. Counselors did not report those concerns to school administrators or state child welfare officials as required, did not send Plaskon to the school nurse for an evaluation and did not create a safety plan for his being in school, the lawsuit alleged.
Milford’s lawyers had argued there there was never any indication that Plaskon was at risk to harm others.
After Sanchez relayed her concerns, her guidance counselor called Plaskon’s father, who said there were no previous indications that his son would harm himself and that he already was in counseling for possible depression, the city’s attorneys said. Plaskon’s parents immediately made an appointment for him with his therapist, who concluded he wasn’t at risk for harming himself, the city’s lawyers said.
Cimarelli also sued Christopher Plaskon and his parents in the same lawsuit. Plaskon and his parents settled for $1.6 million.