Families of those killed in the Virginia Tech shootings have until March 31 to say whether they’ll accept a settlement that would include $100,000 each and the chance to question the governor and university officials about the shooting, a victim’s relative said.
Families of the 32 killed would also receive medical and counseling expenses, said the relative, who asked to remain anonymous because those involved were told not to discuss the settlement. Additional funds would be set aside for the dozens of survivors.
In exchange for accepting the agreement, the family members would give up the right to sue state government, including Virginia Tech, said the relative.
Under the deal, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine would meet with victims and relatives three more times over the next two years to review legislative and administrative responses to the shootings.
Victims and families also could meet with senior Virginia Tech officials within six months of the settlement to ask questions and discuss changes made to the campus since the tragedy, as well as memorials. They also would receive an update on the investigation from the university and state police.
Seung-Hui Cho, a mentally disturbed student, killed the 32 victims and wounded several others at Virginia Tech on April 16 before committing suicide.
At least 20 families have filed notice with the state that they may sue. They have until April 16 to file.
Attorneys for families and officials in the governor’s office did not immediately return calls from The Associated Press.
“My people are pretty unhappy with it, and I don’t blame them,” Edward Jazlowiecki, a lawyer for the family of slain student Henry Lee, told The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk.
Jazlowiecki said Lee’s family faults Virginia Tech for not warning those on campus sooner that a gunman may be loose.
Cho shot his first two victims in a dormitory just after 7 a.m., but university officials did not send an e-mail alert until more than two hours later _ just before Cho killed 30 others in a classroom building across campus.
The proposal would require all claimants to agree and says the state can withdraw the proposal if not enough parties do, the family member said. Other relatives declined to comment.
In addition to the $100,000 payments to each of the families of those killed, another $800,000 would be reserved for the injured, with a maximum of $100,000 to any person.
The proposal also would set up a fund to reimburse or advance expenses not covered by insurance for medical, psychological and psychiatric care for victims and their immediate families.
In October, the families and surviving victims received payments ranging from $11,500 to $208,000 from the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, set up in the days after the April 16 shootings to handle donations that poured into the Blacksburg school.
The proposed settlement would keep the fund, which had been scheduled to close this past December, open to accept contributions for at least five more years.
Associated Press writer Sue Lindsey in Roanoke contributed to this report.
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