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Parkland Survivors Lose Negligence Lawsuit Appeal

Current and former students who brought a lawsuit after surviving the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre in Parkland have lost their appeal to a federal court.

The Plaintiffs had appealed a lower court's ruling dismissing their lawsuit with prejudice, meaning they could not refile the case again as no facts could be proffered to make out a claim where school and law enforcement officials could be held liable. The lawsuit asserted that the Defendants owed a duty to them “to act when faced with a known threat of danger."

However the appellate court disagreed. The court held that "it is well established that schoolchildren are not in a custodial relationship with the state" and that "a custodial relationship exists only if the government places limitations...upon an individual's ability to act on his own behalf." Such situations would be similar to incarceration or other types of involuntary confinement.

The ruling established that the Defendants, a group of Broward County officials including Superintendent of Schools Robert Runcie, former school-resource officer Scot Peterson, former Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, had no "custodial" duty to protect Plaintiffs from psychological and other injuries resulting from the mass shooting which left 13 students, a teacher, and two staff members dead on February 14, 2018.

For a copy of the appellate court's order in the case styled as L.S., et. al. vs. Peterson, et. al, please email us at


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