Families of University of Alabama shooting victims sue provost, Amy Bishop
Former University of Alabama-Huntsville professor Amy Bishop is accused of killing 3 and wounding 6 during a faculty meeting.
January 19th, 2011
05:43 PM ET

Families of University of Alabama shooting victims sue provost, Amy Bishop

The families of two University of Alabama professors who were shot to death in a faculty meeting last year have filed wrongful death suits against the university provost and accused shooter Amy Bishop.

The spouses of Adriel D. Johnson Sr. and Maria Ragland Davis allege that University of Alabama-Huntsville Provost Vistasp M. Karbhari failed to enforce a safety policy that would have prevented the February 12, 2010, shooting that left three dead, including Davis and Johnson, and six others wounded.

The university said it was "saddened" by the decision to bring the lawsuit, and that blame should be placed "squarely on the perpetrator of this horrible crime."

In announcing the lawsuit last week, the families' lawyers said there were parallels between the Alabama school shooting and this month's massacre in Tucson, Arizona, at a meet and greet held by U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords outside a grocery store.

The investigation into the background of Jared Lee Loughner, the 22-year-old accused in the Arizona shooting, has revealed multiple reports from his former classmates and teachers of disturbing behavior on his part. He was suspended in September and told he could return if he received a doctor's note attesting to a clean bill of mental health.

The families of the Alabama shooting victims claim Bishop had amassed a documented record of mental instability at the school that officials should have acted on in order to prevent the shootings.

"The University of Alabama Huntsville Provost had clear obligations under UAH regulations, and standards adopted by universities nationwide following previous high-profile massacres, to obtain intervention by university police and counseling services in order to protect staff and students before Dr. Bishop was allowed into a staff meeting where she gunned down her colleagues," said the families co-counsel, Douglas Fierberg, who represented victims of shootings at Virginia Tech University and Columbine High School.

The lawsuits refer to a "life-safety" policy that Karbhari helped write, which mandates that staff members experiencing emotional, mental or psychological instability be referred to police, "who will in turn work with counseling professionals, in order to protect the lives and safety of persons on campus."

Karbhari was aware that Bishop fell into that category, the lawsuits allege, especially after she was denied tenure in 2009 and began exhibiting threatening behavior toward colleagues.

The lawsuits claim students and colleagues reported several instances of Bishop's "unsettling" behavior, among them, a student petition seeking to have her removed, and a dean who said he actively avoided her after the tenure decision because she was "harassing" and "hounding" him.

The reports were brought to Karbhari but he failed to act on them, the families claim. Moreover, the lawsuit alleges, had the university followed the regulations, it would have discovered that Bishop had been investigated in the 1986 shooting death of her brother, as well as a 1993 attempted bombing of a colleague at Harvard University, where Bishop worked before joining the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alabama-Huntsville in 2003.

The lawsuit also names Bishop's husband, James Anderson, for failing to prevent the shooting despite being aware of his wife's emotional instability and her anger over the tenure decision.

After the shooting, probes into the previous incidents were reopened. As a result, Bishop was charged with first-degree murder in the death of her brother, Seth Bishop. A separate investigation into the bombing at Harvard was closed without any charges against Bishop.

A statement from the University of Alabama-Huntsville expressed regret over the shooting but said neither the school nor Karbhari is to blame.

"While it is clear that blame for this loss must be placed squarely on the perpetrator of this horrible crime, the university has worked diligently to ensure that the families of our deceased employees receive all available, work-related benefits. The university is saddened by the decision to sue Dr. Vistasp Karbhari and does not agree that Dr. Karbhari, or anyone associated with the university, could have predicted or prevented this random act of violence."

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Filed under: Alabama • Arizona • Crime • Gabrielle Giffords
soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. tomcat

    Why not add in the gun maker, bullet maker and whoever made the clothes she was wearing? Give me a break.

    January 19, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |

      im going to sue mexico for letting these illegals work at mcdonalds cause i wanted a job there and cant get one.

      January 19, 2011 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • BigSir

      Add in the gun maker. Now thats a good idea. The dressmaker? No, she would look like that in any dress.

      January 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |

    That would be hhhhaaaard.

    January 19, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Mmmmm

    No the university can't garantee Doc Bishop takes her nerve pills, but they are oblige to assure a safe work environment for all their employees. There be a matter where the university known or shouldda known this was bound to happen and failed to perform.

    January 19, 2011 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • bailey bishop

      shut the f*** up that's my mom

      January 20, 2011 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Carlos

    I'm starting college next week and I swear if I over hear some male or female talkin some crazy talk, I'm going to make sure I sit next to said person. At the first hint of any sign of aggression I'm going to grab a chair and crack it over his/her skull. I'm sick of hearing about these massacres occuring at centers of learning. Though I'm going to school on the post 9/11 GI bill and am getting paid to go, I'll be damned if I'm going to let some mentally deranged or sick person take my life. I've been through way to much to go out in such a way.

    January 19, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • chuck

      What is sad is that you will be the person going to jail. Until bullets start flying, you are screwed if you do something. You can scream bloody murder and, sad to say, nothing will happen.

      January 20, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |


    ever dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?

    January 19, 2011 at 9:02 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank

    Maybe when Jared Lee Loughner and Amy Bishop get aquitted by some liberal court, then they might bump into one another, and meet each others aquaintance. Then they can get a loan and start up a gun shop.

    January 19, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • dpspac3

      that was not a very clever statement, not funny, nor does it at all follow. "A liberal court?" You are a clown.

      January 21, 2011 at 4:43 am | Report abuse |
  7. maureen g. o'brien

    Someone said 'With her Betty Rubble haircut and her crazy thyroid eyes, how could you not see she was nuts?' She KILLED her bhother, an intelligent and talented well-adjusted young man! She blew him away with a shotgun and ran away from the family home after the cold-blooded murder! If she was locked up for that heinous crime THEN, she wouldn't have had the chance to escalate into mass-murder. Our country would rather bust kids for pot – she got off scott-free on that whacking.

    January 20, 2011 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. kuuipo

    @ RUFFNUTT! you can't get a job at Mcdonalds because you are not Mexican! lol! speak some spanish then you should get lucky! ha, ha! now good luck in suing Mexico, thats the real reason why they wouldn't hire you, because you make no sense!

    January 20, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bud Tarken

    Is this Mitt Romney's wife?

    January 20, 2011 at 5:01 am | Report abuse |
  10. Ernie

    Those outside academia don't know the Provost IS actually responsible for the safety of faculty and student bodies. Like bankers and politicians, high-rank college administrators make outrageous salaries, but they don't want to be held responsible for their mistakes. I am a college professor, and I see every day how administrators will wash their hands of anything but pushing paper.

    January 20, 2011 at 7:37 am | Report abuse |
    • bailey bishop

      amy bishop is my mom leave her alone you loser

      January 20, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy Love

      The higher the rank, the less responsibility. It's very probable that Amy Bishop, a Harvard graduate, a qualified specialist and maybe a better one than those who held tenure positions, tried to seek answers to why she was not given a tenure position. The multiple university offices responsible for overlooking hiring/firing/tenure processes act in the way that they may not interfere with departmental decisions.

      February 19, 2011 at 12:00 am | Report abuse |
  11. chrissy

    lmao @ ruffnutt. yea go into mcdonalds and quote the menu from taco bell, that should be enuf to convince em ur mexican lol

    January 20, 2011 at 9:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. chrissy

    as for that lawsuit im surprised they arent sueing her hairdresser and bartender cuz everyone knows u tell them more than ur own husband. just another case of a bunch of sue happy ppl tryin to make some easy $ at someone elses expense.

    January 20, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. Venge

    Hopefully the victim's families sue the authorities in Massachusetts who let Bishop kill her brother, run into a car dealership and attempt- at gunpoint- to hijack a getaway car. After all that, no authority, not the police chief, not the state police, not the district attorney, nobody did a thing. She walked. Professional Malfeasance? Dereliction of duty?

    January 20, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • bailey bishop

      shut up loser she's my mom omg : > P

      January 20, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  14. amazed

    Hey Bailey.... if she really is "your mom", mental illness runs in in families, you may want to get an evaluation. Sorry your mom is messed up, sorrier still your grandmother did not get your mom help so your uncle did not have to die. Bummer throughout the generations. good luck.

    January 20, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy Love

      You should be not amazed but ashamed! Are you a specialist in psychiatry? We live in a world when people are being abused every day. Her Amy Bishop rebelled against this abuse. Maybe she is one with the most sound mind.

      February 18, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Aussie oioi

    I this is really your Mum Bailey I'm sorry she did chose to let the anger focus in this way rather than coping. You are not your mother so you can live your life based on your own choices and cosequences.

    January 20, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amy Love

      Cope with abuse?

      February 18, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
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