Judge dismisses negligence lawsuit of Parkland shooting; attorney calls decision 'erroneous'

By Carrie Bradon | Dec 21, 2018

FORT LAUDERDALE -- A Florida judge has rejected arguments by victims' families of the Parkland shooting, saying that the deputy stationed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was not required to stop the shooting.

This latest ruling by Judge Beth Bloom in Broward County comes just days after a negligence lawsuit was allowed to be filed in Tallahassee against Scot Peterson, the ex-deputy who was stationed at Marjory Douglas when the Feb. 14 shooting took place. 

Parents of a girl who was killed in the shooting argued that the officer failed to act reasonably, given that his stationing at the school was meant for the sole purpose of protecting the students from danger, but that he failed to do so by remaining outside of the school.

Bloom ruled Dec. 18 that the police were not negligent and that the sheriff's department didn't have a responsibility under the 14th Amendment to defend students from the shooter.

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Peter Vujin, a Miami attorney, commented on the most recent ruling and whether it was the right decision. 

"The Parkland shooting was, in fact, caused by the police -- the police failed to stop an armed intruder and thereby violated their duty of care," Vujin told The Florida Record. "In addition, since the police, like any other security guard, assumed the duty to prevent intruders from coming into the school — and were paid for that specific purpose — the police also assumed responsibility and therefore were not allowed to perform that responsibility negligently."

Vujin believes there is no legal argument that can actually erase the responsibility of the police officer in the shooting.

"The decision of the Broward judge is clearly erroneous. It is per se true that once someone loses their life in an incident like this, [it] violates that person's Fifth and 14th Amendment rights," Vujin said. "All things considered, the dismissal of the suit in Broward County looks a great deal more like a practical decision to save Broward County money, than a lawful judgment of an impartial court."

Vujin hopes the U.S. 11th Circuit Appeals Court reverses the Broward decision to align with the Tallahassee decision.

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Broward County Circuit Court Florida Justice Reform Institute

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