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Judge Dismisses Parkland Survivors’ Lawsuit Against Police & School, Saying They Had No Duty To Shield Students

A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit filed by 15 survivors of the tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, ruling that Parkland schools and sheriffs had no legal obligation to protect and shield students, according to the Orlando Sentinel

Judge Beth Bloom dismissed the case and ruled that the institutions had no constitutional responsibility to protect students as they were not in custody of the schools.

“The claim arises from the actions of [shooter Nikolas] Cruz, a third party, and not a state actor,” she wrote in the ruling, the Orlando Sentinel reports. “Thus, the critical question the Court analyzes is whether defendants had a constitutional duty to protect plaintiffs from the actions of Cruz.” 

“For such a duty to exist on the part of defendants, plaintiffs would have to be considered to be in custody,” Bloom wrote. As the Orlando Sentinel explained, “in custody” would refer to either prisoners in jail or patients at a mental institution.

The students sued Broward County, the sheriff, the school superintendent and a school resource officer last summer. It was later revealed that an armed officer stationed at the school, Scott Peterson, stayed outside as the gunman killed 17 students and teachers inside the school, NBC News reports. The Florida sheriff’s deputy retired after the shooting, but he claimed that miscommunication prevented him from entering the school. Peterson, the school district, and the sheriffs office in Broward County were named in the filed lawsuit, saying the shooting had traumatized the students in a place where they were meant to feel safe, the Orlando Sentinel reports.

“His arbitrary and conscience-shocking actions and in-actions directly and predictably caused children to die, get injured, and get traumatized,” the lawsuit claimed, The Hill notes. 

The student’s lawsuit also claimed that the defendants had inadequate policies in place to protect students, and that employees “tasked with carrying out the policies” lacked “the basic fundamental understandings of what those policies are such that they are incapable of carrying them out,” The Hill reports.

While this case has been dismissed, it’s important to note that there are still multiple ongoing court cases for the Parkland shooting. The parents of the students who lost their lives currently has filed cases, as NBC notes. 

Carissa Dunlap is a Her Campus News X Social Intern for Summer 2018. She is a current Publishing major and Journalism minor at Emerson College (Class of 2020). When she isn't perusing the YA bookshelf at the bookstore, she can be found watching dog videos on Facebook, at her favorite coffee shops, or relaxing on the beach. Follow her on Instagram @dunlapcarissa or Twitter @Caridunlap.
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