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Virginia Tech families win $11 million settlement from state

  • Story Highlights
  • 24 victims included in settlement were among 32 Seung-Hui Cho killed in April 2007
  • Of the other 8 victims, families of two chose not to file claims; two are unresolved
  • Agreement allows families to be updated on campus security improvements
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(CNN) -- A Virginia judge on Tuesday approved an $11 million settlement from the state to the families of victims killed or injured in last year's Virginia Tech shootings.

Parents of wounded Virginia Tech students comfort each other on Tuesday.

The 24 victims included in the settlement were among the 32 killed by Seung-Hui Cho's April 16, 2007, shooting rampage. The settlement also compensates 18 people injured.

"The commonwealth has endeavored to meet the needs and concerns of the victims, including family members, through both monetary and non-monetary provisions," said Chief Deputy Attorney General William C. Mims.

Of the remaining eight deceased victims, families of two chose not to file claims and two other claims are unresolved. The other four will be brought forward at a later date, Mims said.

The settlement also includes provisions that allow the families to occasionally meet with the governor and Virginia Tech officials to review legislation and improvements made at the campus in response to the tragedy.

The families had pursued wrongful death and personal injury claims against the state after an August 2007 report by an independent panel concluded that more timely and more specific information from university officials might have saved lives.

University officials were criticized for not immediately warning students and staff after two students were found dead in a dormitory at 7 a.m. on the day of the killings.

Police said they initially believed the two had been involved in a romantic dispute, but later determined they were Cho's first victims. It was almost 9:30 a.m. before authorities sent an e-mail to students and staff notifying them of the shootings and warning them to be cautious.

About 9:50 a.m., Cho, 23, began shooting people in Norris Hall, an engineering and classroom building.

While criticizing the university response, the panel -- which included former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge -- also said quicker action by school officials may not have made a difference.

The report also noted that campus and state agencies might have taken a different approach to Cho had his middle- and high-school records followed him to Virginia Tech.

Problems with Cho reportedly began to surface well before the shootings. The records detailed his mental health issues, including a tendency to react to depression with violence.

All About Seung-Hui ChoVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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