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A federal judge tosses Parkland school shooting lawsuit, says local police had no legal obligation to protect students during the massacre

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Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School

  • A federal judge reportedly threw out a lawsuit filed by 15 students who claimed they were traumatized by the February school shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
  • The judge ruled that neither the sheriff’s office nor the school district had a “constitutional duty” to protect students who were not in their custody.

A federal judge threw out a lawsuit filed by 15 students who claimed they were traumatized by the February school shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Judge Beth Bloom ruled that the defendants, which included Scot Peterson, the student resource officer on duty at the time of the massacre; the Broward County school district; and the Broward County Sheriff’s Office; did not have a “constitutional duty” to protect students who were not in their custody, according to The Sentinel.

Bloom characterized the shooter as a “third party,” and “not a state actor,” which determined the obligation of the defendants to protect students at the Parkland high school.

Bloom likened such duty to that of a custodial relationship between a mental hospital and its patients, or a prison and its inmates, and said the defendants had “no constitutional duty to protect students from harm inflicted by third parties,” according to WPLG.

Read more: Military veterans weigh in on the deputy who resigned over his actions in the Parkland school shooting

Peterson’s defense that he had “no legal duty” to protect others during the shooting was rejected in a previous ruling from a county judge last week, The Sentinel said. The Broward Circuit judge ruled that Peterson, in his role as an armed student resource officer, had an “obligation to act reasonably” during the shooting.

Peterson was in uniform and remained outside of the building for at least four minutes during the shooting. The lawsuit described his failure to act as “conscience-shocking” and that it “predictably caused children to die.”

“We don’t think it’s even debatable that Peterson had a duty to these students,” an attorney for the family of 18-year-old Meadow Pollack, a victim of the shooting, said in The Sentinel. “Peterson’s disclaimer of any legal responsibility is a mirror of his abdication of his responsibility for these kids.”

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