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Columbine Families Settle Lawsuits

Courts: The school district and sheriff's office both offer $15,000 payments to relatives of shooting victims.

June 08, 2002|From Associated Press

DENVER — The families of several Columbine shooting victims have settled lawsuits with the school district and sheriff's office, with one attorney saying the time had come to "bring this to a close."

The lawsuits accused officials of failing to do enough to prevent the 1999 slayings at Columbine High School and botching the response afterward.

The school district will pay an average $15,000 apiece to the families of seven students, said Bill Kowalski, the school district's attorney.

"Our view is that it is simply time to bring this to a close," Kowalski, the school district's attorney, said Friday. "The plaintiffs expressed the same desire, and so it was one of the situations where both sides wanted the same thing."

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office also offered $15,000 to the families of 11 victims. Six have accepted and the other five were expected to, said county attorney spokeswoman Jennifer Watson.

The two settlements leave no more lawsuits related to injuries or death from the shooting against the school district. Two cases are pending against the sheriff's office.

Seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people and wounded about two dozen more before taking their own lives.

Families of victims have said the settlement money is mostly symbolic.

"We wanted answers; we wanted full disclosure of what the school district and the sheriff did that day and prior to that," said Randy Graves, the father of Sean Graves, who was wounded and left partially paralyzed. "I think we accomplished that."

Graves said the $30,000 his son would receive--$15,000 from the district and the same amount from the sheriff's office--probably won't cover the future costs of his injuries. "I'm not sure what his future needs are going to be, and that's what I feel my responsibility is--to help him for the future," Graves said.

As part of the settlements, the school district and sheriff's office agreed to drop their demand for legal fees. The settlements will likely be entered in court next week, officials said.

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