No Duty To Protect?

PUBLISHED: 2:00 PM 19 Dec 2018
UPDATED: 8:35 PM 19 Dec 2018

Judge Tosses Broward Lawsuit: School Had ‘No Legal Duty’ To Protect Kids

In a direct contradiction to a case last week, a federal judge has ruled that Broward County schools and the Sheriff’s Office had no legal duty to protect the students from the deranged gunman.

Judge Beth Bloom has ruled that Broward County agencies had no legal duty to protect students from a gunman.

In what seems to be an asinine and extremely biased decision, a federal judge has ruled that the Broward County School Board and Sheriff’s Office had no legal duty to protect students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School from the gunman killer.

U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom dismissed a suit filed by 15 students who argue that the school failed to protect them during the shooting in February.

Bloom said that the two agencies had no constitutional duty to protect students who were not in custody… meaning that school children aren’t in custody while in classes.

But many people argue then how can schools issue ‘lockdowns’ that keep parents from accessing kids during emergencies?

“The claim arises from the actions of [shooter Nikolas] Cruz, a third party, and not a state actor,” she wrote in a ruling Dec. 12. “Thus, the critical question the Court analyzes is whether defendants had a constitutional duty to protect plaintiffs from the actions of Cruz

“As previously stated, for such a duty to exist on the part of defendants, plaintiffs would have to be considered to be in custody” — for example, as prisoners or patients of a mental hospital, she wrote.

Peterson was the only armed person at the school when Cruz entered the facility and murdered 17 people, but he cowered outside while the carnage was allowed to proceed unhindered.

“His arbitrary and conscience-shocking actions and inactions directly and predictably caused children to die, get injured, and get traumatized,” the lawsuit claimed.

Medina knew Cruz and saw him arrive on campus, but did not confront him.

The lawsuit argued that the Broward County Sheriff’s Office and School Board “either have a policy that allows killers to walk through a school killing people without being stopped. Alternatively, they have such inadequate training that the individuals tasked with carrying out the policies … lack the basic fundamental understandings of what those policies are such that they are incapable of carrying them out.”

Kristoffer R. Budhram of Jacksonville, who represented the students, responded, “We respectfully disagree with Judge Bloom’s decision to dismiss our clients’ case. This case is about protecting the Constitutional rights of individuals who were the victims of one of the worst mass shootings in this country’s history.

“We are exploring all of our options for ensuring that they get their day in court, including appealing Judge Bloom’s decision,” Budhram wrote.

The fact that a judge would rule that students aren’t prisoners of the school seems incredible. Many people argue that that’s exactly what they are.

Students are not allowed to leave for unaccepted reasons, they must conform to the schedule, and if a lockdown occurs, cannot leave.

Bloom’s ruling contrasts with Broward Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning’s decision last week.

“Henning rejected his argument that Peterson had “no legal duty” to protect the students and faculty.”

She ruled Peterson did have a duty to the school community as someone whose job was security and who had an “obligation to act reasonably.” And, since the ‘protect and serve’ part of the job was ignored, he was culpable and not protected by “sovereign immunity.”

That ruling is planned to be appealed, and now will have more ammunition, given this latest ruling.