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Legal Analyst Suskauer: Liability for UCSB Massacre Unclear

Wednesday, 28 May 2014 02:20 PM


Victims' families and survivors of a campus killing spree in California face uncertain legal terrain if they decide to press court claims arising from the massacre, Newsmax legal analyst Michelle Suskauer said on Wednesday.

If plaintiffs sue local police or the parents of suspected Isla Vista killer Elliot Rodger, it's not clear that any judge or jury would, or could, rule in their favor, Suskauer said on Newsmax TV in an interview on "America's Forum" with John Bachman and Francesca Page.

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Rodger, 22, who reportedly took his own life afterward, was an adult at the time of last Friday's rampage through the hometown of the University of California-Santa Barbara, and Suskauer noted that at least one state, Florida, has ruled that parents of an adult child are not legally liable for the child's actions.

News reports also show that sheriff's deputies in Santa Barbara County paid Rodger a visit at home on April 30 in response to concerns raised by his mother, although they took no further action after interviewing Rodger.

Whether that judgement call by deputies opens the Santa Barbara sheriff's department to legal liability is also unclear. Law enforcement agencies "make snap decisions all the time," said Suskauer.

Moreover, Rodgers appears to have purchased firearms used in last Friday's campus attack legally. Suskauer said the killings attributed to Rodger, who left behind a hate-filled manifesto, again raise questions of who should be deemed too mentally unstable to carry firearms, and how to reconcile Second Amendment rights with keeping guns out of the wrong hands.

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