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Lawyer withdraws Sandy Hook suit, may refile

Updated 7:09 pm, Monday, December 31, 2012
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Just days after filing a $100 million lawsuit claiming the state failed to adequately protect the students at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a New Haven lawyer has withdrawn it.

But that doesn't preclude a future filing, Irving Pinsky said.

"I received new evidence on security at the school, which I need to evaluate," Pinsky said Monday.

Once that happens, Pinsky said he may re-submit the paperwork to J. Paul Vance Jr., who as the state's claims commissioner has the authority to determine if a claim is justified and requires hearings. Vance must approve any claim before a state agency can be sued.

Vance is the son of Connecticut State Police Lt. J. Paul Vance, the state police spokesman assigned to the Dec. 14 Sandy Hook school massacre investigation. Adam Lanza, a 20-year-old Newtown resident, killed 20 children and six female staff members before turning the gun on himself.

Nearly two weeks after Lanza's autopsy, his father, Peter, claimed the body Thursday at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Farmington. Peter Lanza resides in Stamford and works at General Electric Financial Services

Pinsky said once he reviews the evidence, he will decide what "route to take."

His clients are the parents of a 6-year-old girl who survived the attacks, but was traumatized by the shooting, gunfire and the screaming she heard over the school's loudspeaker that day.

"We haven't decided which route to take yet," Pinsky said. "A lot depends on the evidence we uncover."

Earlier in the day, Attorney General George Jepsen said his office will defend the state against any claim Pinsky might file.

"However, the Office of the Claims Commissioner is not the appropriate venue for that important and complex discussion," Jepsen said.

"Although the investigation is still under way, we are aware of no facts or legal theory under which the state of Connecticut should be liable for causing the harms inflicted at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Nor does the claim letter filed in this case identify a valid basis to support a claim against the state...and its taxpayers."

Still pending before J. Paul Vance Jr. is another high-profile case.

Three years ago, the family of Charla Nash filed a $150 million claim against the state Department of Environmental Protection and blamed the DEP for allowing a pet chimpanzee to remain in a Stamford woman's home.

The chimp went on a February 2009 rampage and severely mauled Nash, who lost her hands and eyes and required a complete facial transplant.

Staff writer Ken Dixon contributed to this report.

mmayko@ctpost.com; 203-330-6286; http://twitter.com/mmayko2011