- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 24, 2018

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Lawyers for a Connecticut city where a teenage girl was stabbed to death at her high school are asking a state judge to end a wrongful death lawsuit by the student’s mother, saying school officials should not be held liable for the killing.

Attorneys for Milford and the city’s schools filed the request in Superior Court earlier this month in the case involving 16-year-old Maren Sanchez.

Sanchez was killed at Jonathan Law High School by fellow student Christopher Plaskon on April, 25, 2014. Police alleged Plaskon was upset Sanchez rejected his prom invitation - a claim disputed by his lawyer. He pleaded no contest to murder and is serving a 25-year prison sentence.

In November 2013, Sanchez told her guidance counselor that Plaskon had threatened to kill himself, and she worried he might be a danger to himself or others, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit, filed by Donna Cimarelli-Sanchez two years ago, alleges school counselors failed to fully follow rules, procedures and state law after hearing Sanchez’s concerns.

Counselors did not report those concerns to school administrators or state child welfare officials as required, did not send Plaskon to the school nurse for an evaluation and did not create a safety plan for his being in school, the lawsuit alleges. School officials also are accused of failing to prevent Plaskon from bringing a knife into school.

The motion filed April 6 by Milford’s lawyers, James Tallberg and Patrick Allen, includes the city’s most detailed responses to the allegations to date. It says there was never any indication that Plaskon was at risk to harm others.

After Sanchez relayed her concerns, her guidance counselor called Plaskon’s father, who said there were no previous indications that his son would harm himself and that he already was in counseling for possible depression, the motion says. Plaskon’s parents immediately made an appointment for him with his therapist, who concluded he wasn’t at risk for harming himself, the city’s lawyers said.

Christopher Plaskon’s guidance counselor and a school social worker also evaluated him before allowing him to return to classes, and he assured them he was not suicidal, the motion says.

The city’s lawyers say school officials took immediate action, but acknowlege they may not have fully followed the school’s suicide policy.

“No doubt all of them (school officials) would have acted to their own risk and harm to prevent it if they had seen any signs of what was coming. But there were no signs,” Tallberg and Allen wrote. “Governing law and the facts of this tragic case establish that legal responsibility for the injuries and death of Maren Sanchez must not reach beyond Chris Plaskon himself.”

David Golub, a lawyer for Cimarelli-Sanchez, said he will submit a detailed response to the city’s motion next month.

“The town is trying to avoid this case on a technical basis,” Golub said. “We think this case should be decided, and will be decided, on the evidence.”

Cimarelli-Sanchez also sued Christopher Plaskon and his parents in the same lawsuit. Plaskon and his parents settled for $1.6 million.

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2020 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide