Federal Appeals Court docket Rejects Civil Rights Swimsuit by Parkland Survivors

A federal appeals court dismissed lawsuits filed by 15 students who survived the 2018 deadly mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. 11th Circuit Atlanta Appeals Court upheld a federal district court by dismissing the main complaint in the students ‘lawsuit – this public safety incompetence and school officials violated students’ right to due process the fourteenth amendment.

The lawsuit argued that the due process clause was violated because the officers violated the “clearly established right to be” of students [free] from willful indifference to material known risks and injuries. “

However, the 11th Circle Court, in its Dec. 11 position in the LS v. Peterson case, said the students faced an insurmountable barrier to their 14th Amendment motion because they were not in the same care as any of the defendants appointed officials found that institutionalized or imprisoned persons are under custody of state officials.

“Usually custody relationships do not exist in the public school system, even when officials are aware of the potential dangers or have expressed an intention to provide assistance for school reasons,” wrote Judge William H. Pryor Jr. on a unanimous panel. “Because the students were not in custody at the school, they were not in custody of the officers.”

No “conscience shocking” behavior

The lawsuit dates back to February 14, 2018, in which the gunman, a former Stoneman Douglas High School student with a record of possible warning signs of violence, entered the high school freshman building and killed 17 students and employees and injured 17 others.

Among the defendants in the lawsuit was Scot Peterson, who was the school clerk at the time who did not enter the building to face the shooter. Andrew Medina, a school security monitor who recognized the shooter as a potential threat but did not confront him or “call a code”; Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel; and Broward County School Superintendent Robert W. Runcie.

The lawsuit alleged that Israel, Runcie and Broward County’s guidelines had inadequately trained their staff to deal with mass shooting at the school.

A federal district court dismissed Runcie, Israel, Medina, and several other defendants from the lawsuit in 2018. The court allowed certain claims against Peterson to continue the discovery, but later issued a summary judgment in his favor. The students then appealed to the 11th circle against the rejection of their main motion because of due process.

Pryor, who wrote for the 11th Circuit Panel, said that without a custody relationship between the students and officials, the defendants’ behavior would have to be “arbitrary” or “scrupulously shocking” for the students to have a case but fail to file their lawsuit it to claim such behavior.

“A shootout is an opportunity that requires quick action, with officials passing judgments in a split second – in circumstances that are tense, unsafe and evolving quickly,” said Pryor. “When judgments are required in a split second, an officer’s behavior will only shock the conscience if it comes from a purpose of causing harm. … The students do not claim that an officer acted with the aim of causing harm. “

A school shootout is like a prison riot, Pryor said, when officials are forced to make hasty decisions in violent and chaotic circumstances.

“Without willful misconduct, we cannot review these decisions in a split second under the due process clause,” he said.

Runcie remains the superintendent of the Broward County’s school system. Peterson was released and later charged with child neglect for failing to confront the shooter. Sagittarius is waiting for the process delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are other civil suits pending in the Parkland case. In August, a federal district judge allowed a lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate the bureau’s alleged abuse of tips about the shooter.

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