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Judge awards over $36 million in damages to victims of Marshall County High School shooting


A western Kentucky circuit court judge has awarded over $36 million in damages to some of the victims of the deadly 2018 Marshall County High School shooting.

Several plaintiffs – including the family of Bailey Holt, one of two students who was killed in the incident – filed a lawsuit in 2019 seeking damages from the shooter, Gabe Parker, and his mother and stepfather. The other plaintiffs in the suit include Dalton Keeling, Mary Bella James and Gage Smock.

Trent Lovett, the former superintendent of Marshall County Public Schools, was also initially named as a defendant in the lawsuit, but was later granted qualified immunity.

The judgment, filed on Dec. 8, awards punitive damages against Parker, as well as for past and future medical bills, pain and suffering and wage loss.

The plaintiffs’ attorney Sheila Hiestand said that it is “highly unlikely” that the families will ever be able to collect on the damages. Parker, who was 15 at the time of the shooting, was sentenced to life in prison in 2020, and Hiestand said his parents do not have many assets to collect against.

What this decision does, she said, is help prevent the shooter or his family from attempting to make money off of the incident in the future.

“What we wanted to protect the family from is any future emotional damages from the shooter or his family profiting off this tragedy, because they can write books, they can speak to the press in exchange for profits, and we don't want that to happen,” Hiestand said.

However, Hiestand said whatever financial damages the victims may be able to collect would never replace what they have lost.

“I could have gotten a billion dollars in damages,” she said. “And even if I'd collected it, it would not have been enough to compensate these victims.”

Hannah Saad is the Assistant News Director for WKMS. Originally from Michigan, Hannah earned her bachelor’s degree in news media from The University of Alabama in 2021. Hannah moved to western Kentucky in the summer of 2021 to start the next chapter of her life after graduation. Prior to joining WKMS in March 2023, Hannah was a news reporter at The Paducah Sun. Her goal at WKMS is to share the stories of the region from those who call it home. Outside of work, Hannah enjoys exploring local restaurants, sports photography, painting, and spending time with her fiancé and two dogs.
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