Florida State University could soon face a lawsuit following a shooting on campus that left one student paralyzed. Ronny Ahmed was shot multiple times by the man who opened fire in Strozier Library on a late night in November 2014. At issue is whether the school was negligent in its security.
Ahmed was left paralyzed from the waist down, and lost the use of one of his arms. Daily tasks like showering and going to the bathroom are a struggle. The family needs a full-time caregiver, but so far, has only been able to find part-time help. And the cost of medical care for the rest of Ahmed’s life is staggering, says attorney Eric Abrahamsen.
“It’s a situation none of us would trade for, for all the money in the world. And so he’s seeking the financial compensation that would allow him to survive with future medical and future caretakers, and be like the rest of us as much as he can.”
Campus police responded quickly to the November 2014 shooting at Strozier Library. But the shooter, a former FSU student suffering from mental illness, was in the area for about 25 minutes before he opened fire. He’d previously tried to enter the library but was blocked at the turn-styles. And Abrahamsen wonders why the student assigned to act as security at the facility failed to report the incident.
“Myron May the shooter at Florida State, could have been stopped before he opened fire, injuring Ronny Ahmed. Our suit is seeking damages in that Mr. Ahmed has significant damages in relation to that negligent security that FSU provided, and we’re hoping we can resolve that litigation with Florida State.”
In a statement, Florida State University says it is "aware of the notice of intent to sue, but we are not aware of any lawsuit being filed. The university has shown great care and concern for Ronny and has provided support for him and his family. We are disappointed anyone would question FSU’s response to the shooting.”
According to the gun safety advocacy group Everytown, there have been nearly 100 shootings on college and university campuses since 2013—when the group began tracking. FSU became one of 30 schools in 2014 to report a shooting incident on campus.
Lawsuits following school shootings have become routine. Two parents of students killed in the Newton Connecticut school shooting settled a negligence claim against the school district last year. Parents of two students killed in the Virginia Tech shooting of 2007 sued the school but a ruling in their favor was overturned on appeal in 2013.
Abrahamsen says he’d like to reach some sort of settlement with Florida State. He says he’s been in contact with the university both before filing the notice of intent to sue, and after. Any sort of settlement, or judgment in excess of $200,000 a person, or $300,000 per claim would have to be approved by the Florida legislature, a process that could take years, or decades. It’s something Abrahamsen says the family is prepared to deal with.
“In anticipation with that, multiple people have been working on his behalf, both lawmakers and lobbyists, that are interested in pursuing a claims bill on his behalf, should we get a judgment in excess of $200,000," he says.
While the lawsuit focuses on negligence, Abrahamsen says the issue is about quality of life. Ahmed’s condition will require a lifetime of care—a situation that could cost millions.