Commonwealth v. Peterson
Supreme Court of Virginia
749 S.E.2d 307 (2013)
On April 16, 2007, at 7:30 a.m., police responded to a shooting at a Virginia Tech dorm. Virginia Tech Police, Blacksburg Police, and Virginia State Police all became involved in the investigation. Based on the evidence at the crime scene and the fact that the shooting occurred in a dorm room, the police felt that it was an isolated, domestic, “targeted” shooting; that the shooter had fled; and that no others were in danger. In light of this account from all three police departments, Virginia Tech officials believed the same. Virginia Tech officials sent a campus-wide email stating that there had been a shooting on campus and urging all to be on the lookout for suspicious activity. However, at approximately 9:45 a.m. that morning, a mass shooting occurred at a different Virginia Tech dorm, killing, among others, Erin Peterson and Julia Pryde. At that point, Virginia Tech officials sent out a campus-wide email stating that there was a shooter on the loose and advising all to stay inside until further notice. The administrators of Peterson and Pryde’s estates (plaintiffs) brought a wrongful death suit in Montgomery County Circuit Court against the Commonwealth of Virginia (Commonwealth) (defendant), arguing that Virginia Tech officials breached their duty to warn students of the possible danger after the first shootings occurred. The circuit court found that: (1) a special relationship existed between Virginia Tech officials and the decedents, imposing a duty on Virginia Tech to warn the decedents of the potential danger of the shooter, and (2) the Virginia Tech officials breached that duty. The Commonwealth appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Powell, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 709,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead our student testimonials
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 709,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 44,500 briefs, keyed to 983 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.