Premises liability claims filed against city after tornado deaths

The parents of six students who died during a tornado at Plaza Towers Elementary school in May 2013 have filed claims against the city of Moore, Oklahoma, and the school district. Official reports show that seven students were injured, but only six families are participating in the premises liability case at this time. One family has also filed claims for a daughter who was injured in the incident; they are also seeking compensation for emotional distress because that girl watched her sister die during the incident.

The lawsuit alleges that the district did not properly respond when the tornado hit. Instead, safety procedures were effectively ignored. Further, the claim states that the district did not hire qualified technical experts to properly construct classrooms at Plaza Towers. Those experts include architects, contractors and engineers, according to news reports.

If the city and the school do not respond within 90 days, the parents may be eligible to file a lawsuit in district court. Families of the decedents are still waiting to hear from the school system and the city in connection with the premises liability case. Those parents may not be able to sue for a large amount of money, however. The state of Oklahoma limits claims against municipalities to $1 million per incident. The civil claim argues that the parents have suffered damages that far exceed the limit for government tort claims.

These parents had to endure the tragic death and injury of their beloved children, perhaps because officials did not adequately prepare for a natural disaster. The families should be entitled to financial damages because of this horrific event. Further, school officials and the municipality should be held responsible for their failure to ensure the safety and welfare of such young victims.

Source: KOCO, "Parents of students who died at Plaza Towers file claims against city, district" Kim Passoth, May. 27, 2014

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