TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Commonwealth Law School

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Parkland Shooting Cases

Marjory Douglas Stoneman High School has at least 103 claims pending against it related to a February 14, 2018 mass shooting.  Judges made rulings recently in two of them.  The father of one of the 17 people killed that day filed suit in state court against a number of defendants, including the law enforcement officer assigned to protect the high school.  The officer stayed outside the building instead of going inside when the shooting began.  The officer's attorneys filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that tort law does not impose “a duty of care to prevent a person from harming another.”  Broward County Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning denied the motion, holding the officer had a duty to the school community as someone whose job was security.  The officer had an ‘obligation to act reasonably’ under the circumstances of the shooting.  The judge also denied the officer was entitled to sovereign immunity.  

In a federal civil rights suit filed by 15 students present during the shooting who allege psychological injuries, U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom ruled to dismiss all of the constitutional rights violations claimed by the plaintiffs.  The plaintiffs' claims hinged on the Due Process Clause, which protects people from actions taken by the state.  The judge stated that “nothing in the language of the Due Process Clause itself requires the State to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizens against invasion by private actors.” 

OPB has the story.

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