Judge rules Virginia teacher shot by 6-year-old can move forward with $40M lawsuit

A teacher who was shot by her 6-year-old student in Virginia can move forward with her $40 million lawsuit against the school system, a judge ruled Friday.

Abigail Zwerner is suing the Newport News Public School system over claims of negligence. She’s seeking compensation for the serious injuries caused by the classroom shooting that happened in January, The Associated Press reported.

“We are eager to continue our pursuit of accountability and a just, fair recovery,” Zwerner’s attorneys said in a statement. “No teacher expects to stare down the barrel of a gun held by a six-year-old student.”

The school system argued that Zwerner should only be eligible for workers’ compensation, which provides up to nearly 10 years pay and lifetime medical care for injuries.

Newport News Circuit Court Judge Matthew Hoffman disagreed with the school board, arguing Zwerner’s injuries “did not arise out of her employment” and thus she was not considered for workers’ compensation.

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The school board’s attorneys have indicated they would appeal the decision.

The state of Virginia has an uncommonly strict workers’ compensation law that covers workplace assaults and allegations of negligence against employers.

The teacher was hospitalized for nearly two weeks and underwent multiple surgeries after a bullet struck her hand and chest. She said school administration ignored multiple warnings that the boy had a gun that day and had routinely dismissed ongoing concerns about his behavior.

The student brought his mother’s handgun to the Richneck Elementary School in January and shot her as she sat at a reading table. She rushed the rest of the students into the hallways before collapsing in the school’s office.

Authorities previously said the boy will not face charges.

A tentative trial date for Zwerner’s lawsuit has been set for January 2025.

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