Judge allows negligence lawsuit to continue against ex-deputy present at Parkland shooting

By Carrie Bradon | Dec 16, 2018

FORT LAUDERDALE — A Florida judge allowed a negligence lawsuit to continue over allegations that the police officer on duty at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the Parkland shooting failed to take reasonable action to prevent students and staff from being killed.

The lawsuit is being filed by Andrew Pollack, who lost his daughter on Feb. 14. Pollack claims that ex-deputy Scot Peterson was legally obligated to protect the victims of the shooting but was negligent and did nothing. 

Wesley Straw of Emerson Straw, a St. Petersburg-based law firm, explained why the allegations were likely to stand up in court.

"Individuals working in virtually every capacity have a duty to undertake their work in a non-negligent manner, which means people are required to act reasonably under the circumstances," Straw told the Florida Record. "Whether an individual, in this case Officer Peterson, acted reasonably is usually a question of fact."

Straw explained that, in his opinion, the judge in this case made the correct decision in sending it to the jury for judgement.

"I would find it very hard to believe that a jury would not think that Peterson acted unreasonably and therefore negligently, and I believe the Pollack family should absolutely prevail on," Straw said.

Any issue of "he said, she said" was unlikely to muddle the details of the case, Straw said, as Peterson was said to have been hiding, which would make any argument that claimed he acted correctly out of the question. 

"If he was hiding, I think that he is highly likely not to prevail in the case; if there are some arguments that he did something affirmative that would be consistent with what his responsibilities were as a police officer stationed at a school to protect children, there could be some arguments, but I haven't heard any good ones," Straw said. "I believe he has an obligation to try to help the students and the faculty, and his actions are shocking to me based on what has been reported about his actions."

Straw said that the challenge in this case may be to financially answer to a monetary judgement against Peterson.

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