Lawyer behind Newtown claim says meant to prevent future attacks

Wed Jan 2, 2013 9:13pm IST

People hug at a makeshift memorial in Sandy Hook after the Dec.14 shooting tragedy when a gunman shot dead 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, December 28, 2012. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

People hug at a makeshift memorial in Sandy Hook after the Dec.14 shooting tragedy when a gunman shot dead 20 students and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, December 28, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Carlo Allegri

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REUTERS - The lawyer who filed and then quickly withdrew a $100 million legal claim against the state of Connecticut in the wake of the deadly Newtown elementary school shooting said on Wednesday his motive in the case is to prevent future school massacres and that he continues to investigate evidence for a future claim.

New Haven, Connecticut-based attorney Irving Pinsky, appearing on CNN, said his job is "to stop this happening again."

"It hurts me, but I know it's coming," Pinsky said, referring to the likelihood of a future attack on a school.

Pinsky, hired by the family of an unidentified six-year-old girl who survived the attack, said 20-year-old Adam Lanza's assault was a foreseeable event and officials failed to prevent it. Lanza's December 14 massacre left 20 first graders and six staff members dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, the second deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

"It had to be assumed that this was going to happen somewhere, sometime," Pinsky said.

When pressed with indications that Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, who was killed in the attack, had recently increased security measures, which appears to have forced Lanza to shoot his way through the main doors to gain entry to the school, Pinsky replied the entrance was supposed to be constructed of bulletproof glass.

Last week, Pinsky had filed notice with the state that he was seeking permission to sue the State of Connecticut Board of Education, Department of Education and Education Commissioner for what he claims were lapses that allowed the attack to occur.

On Monday Pinsky dropped his claim, but said on CNN he has a year to refile it and he is actively collecting evidence in that effort, echoing comments he made to Reuters on Tuesday.

He added that the state is not the only target of his investigation.

"We're not only going after the State of Connecticut," Pinsky said, without elaborating.

The survivor, referred to as Jill Doe, "has sustained emotional and psychological trauma and injury, the nature and extent of which are yet to be determined," the claim said.

On Monday, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen called the claim misguided and said a public policy response by the U.S. Congress and the Connecticut state legislature would be more appropriate than legal action, according to a spokeswoman.

By law, any claim against the state must be approved by the state claims commissioner before it can move forward. The state attorney general serves as the state's defense attorney.

Lanza shot and killed his mother and took his own life as well, police said, in the violence which has prompted extensive debate about gun control and the suggestion by the National Rifle Association that schools be patrolled by armed guards.

Pinsky also indicated that backlash against him for filing the claim, including death threats, played a role in the decision to withdraw it. Asked why he had not chosen to pursue the NRA for its role in promoting the proliferation of firearms in the United States, Pinsky answered: "When you say something about the NRA you get double bonus death threats."

(Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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