The family of a Virginia Tech student who committed suicide has reached asettlement of a wrongful death lawsuit against the university.The state of Virginia has agreed to settle the lawsuit by paying $200,000 to the family of Daniel Sun Kim.The state will also establish a scholarship fund of $100,000 in his name.The settlement includes more than $100,000 in attorney fees.The family had initially claimed $4 million in their wrongful death lawsuit.
Additionally, Virginia Tech will also place a memorial plaque honoring Daniel Sun Kim somewhere on campus.The university will also enact a policy that will require that parents and guardians of students who are considered to be suicidal, be informed of this. As part of the settlement, the University does not admit any wrongdoing in Kim’s death.
As a wrongful death attorney, I recognize that the amount is not substantial relative to the loss suffered by the family. It is likely the family decided that the non-monetary portion of the settlement (ie: change in policy, scholarship fund and plaque honoring their son) allowed for a more appropriate conclusion of the case. I very much respect and applaud their decision. The change in the policy of the university will likely save lives of students in the future. It is unfortunate that the university did not choose to also provide the family with a more appropriate level of financial compensation for their loss rather than only implementing a policy that should have already been in effect for the safety of their students.
On December 9, 2007, Daniel Sun Kim committed suicide by shooting himself sitting in his car in a parking lot.There were visible signs before his suicide that should have alerted University officials about potential trouble.According to fellow students, he was apparently distraught over talk that he resembled Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech student who was involved in a rampage in 2007 at Virginia Tech.Cho killed 32 students, and left several injured.
Soon, Kim began making threats to commit suicide.Some of those threats were made in e-mails and online messages to a friend called Shaun Pribush.He emailed university officials to inform them that Kim had threatened to commit suicide, and had recently acquired a gun.Virginia Tech officials as well as local police searched the university for the Daniel Sun Kim mentioned in the email, and finally found him.However, Kim denied that he had any friend named Shaun Pribush.He flatly denied that he was suicidal.
The assistant director of psychiatry services at the university’s counseling center did recommend that Kim be invited for a meeting to discuss the situation.That meeting was never held, and the case was officially closed in November 2007.Barely a month later, Kim was dead.
In 2009, his family filed a lawsuit against Virginia Tech, demanding to know why the university did not follow its own protocols and respond to warnings that their son had been suicidal.They were never notified about the friend’s e-mail to university officials, and were never given any information about the university’s investigation of their son and his suicide plans.
This is one of at least 3 high-profile cases involving students who died violent deaths at Virginia Tech.There are at least 2 wrongful death lawsuits that claim $10 million each, filed by parents of women who were killed in the Virginia Tech attacks of April 6, 2007.
The Georgia wrongful death lawyers at the Katz Law Firm represent families of persons who have been killed due to the negligence of others, helping them recover compensation for their losses.If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of others, speak with a Georgia wrongful death attorney at our law firm.