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APNewsBreak: Settlement reached to avoid Va. Tech lawsuits
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    ROANOKE, Va. — A majority of the families of victims of the mass shootings at Virginia Tech agreed Thursday to terms of an $11 million settlement proposed by the state to avoid lawsuits over the tragedy.
    Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and lawyers Peter Grenier and Douglas Fierberg, who represent 21 families, said the terms of the agreement had been worked out in negotiations. They would not discuss details until the final settlement papers have been drawn up.
    ‘‘A proposal for resolution has now been accepted by a substantial majority of the victims and victims’ families,’’ Kaine said in a statement.
    ‘‘As the one-year anniversary of this tragedy approaches, our hearts go out to our many clients who entrusted us with this important responsibility, as well as to the other families who have been helped by our work,’’ Grenier and Fierberg said in a statement.
    While they would not disclose the terms, Grenier and Fierberg said that seriously injured victims ‘‘will be well compensated and have their health care needs taken care of forever.’’ They said families who lost loved ones would be ‘‘similarly compensated and cared for,’’ they said.
    Attorney General Bob McDonnell’s office had no comment on the settlement, spokesman Tucker Martin said.
    An early version of the agreement obtained by The Associated Press called for representatives of each of the 32 people killed by a student gunman last April 16 to receive $100,000.
    Another $800,000 would be available to the injured, with a cap of $100,000 per person. The injured will have health-care expenses covered, and they and the families of those killed could seek additional money from a $1.75 million hardship fund.
    The injured and victims’ families would have a chance to meet with the governor and university officials several times to discuss the mass shootings and changes on campus since then.
    ‘‘The settlement will also result in the release of previously undisclosed facts and information turned up by our firm’s investigation that will enable the public to better understand the events which caused this senseless tragedy,’’ Grenier and Fierberg said.
    Twenty-two families had filed notice with the state that they might sue. By accepting the proposal, family members gave up the right to sue the state government, the school, the local governments serving Virginia Tech and the community services board that provides mental-health services in the area.
    The student gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, had been ruled a danger to himself during a court commitment hearing in 2005 and was ordered to receive outpatient mental health care, but never received treatment.
    The $11 million figure includes attorneys’ fees and a fund for charities.
    In October, the families and surviving victims received payments ranging from $11,500 to $208,000 from the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund, set up in the days after the shootings to handle donations that poured into the school. That fund will remain open for contributions to scholarships for five years.
    Families originally were told they had to respond to the state’s offer by March 31, but the deadline was extended.
    Associated Press reporter Larry O’Dell contributed to this report from Richmond, Va.

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