A wrongful death action was brought against the Long Beach Unified School District as a result of the murder of a high school student immediately outside a homecoming football game in the District. The young girl, an honors student and athlete, had exited the stadium and was waiting to be picked up by her parents on the sidewalk in front of the campus. While seated, gunfire broke out between two rival gangs immediately after the game, resulting in the death of the young girl.
Her parents sued the District, maintaining that there was inadequate security and poor illumination. The demand at the commencement of trial was $3,000,000. On behalf of the District, we maintained that the security (consisting of a combination of District Police, campus security, and teachers and administrators) was adequate and could not have prevented this instantaneous shooting. As to the lighting, sufficiency was demonstrated both by expert testimony and by video captured from a passing bus just two minutes before the incident. The bus video also demonstrated that the alleged mayhem claimed to have immediately preceded the shooting did not exist.
After nearly three weeks of trial, the jury agreed, granting a defense verdict to the Long Beach Unified School District in this case of Estate of Ross v. Long Beach Unified School District. In so doing, it found that there was no negligent supervision, inadequate lighting, or proximate cause relative to this tragic shooting. The jury also focused on the fact that the actual shooting occurred on the sidewalk – technically city property.