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Judge: School, Cops Had No Legal Duty to Protect Parkland Teens

But another judge last week had a different view about officer Scot Peterson
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2018 1:09 PM CST
Scot Peterson, right, is seen outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Feb. 14, 2018.   (Courtesy of the Broward County Sheriff's Office via AP)

(Newser) – A federal judge has tossed a lawsuit claiming sheriff's deputies and school officials failed to protect students during the Feb. 14 Parkland shooting. Claiming severe trauma and psychological injuries, 15 students of Florida's Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School argued their civil and due process rights were violated. "Viewed properly, the claim arises from the actions of [shooter Nikolas Cruz], a third party, and not a state actor," US District Judge Beth Bloom wrote in a Dec. 12 ruling, per NBC Miami, clearing Broward's school district and sheriff's office of any legal duty to protect students not in custody. At best, the lawsuit filed in July alleged "deliberate indifference" on the part of defendants—including campus monitor Andrew Medina and school deputy Scot Peterson—which is "insufficient to constitute a due-process violation," Bloom said.

While the judge noted "further amendment of these claims would be futile," she did allow a small portion of the suit, alleging a wrongful search by Peterson on the morning of the shooting, to move forward. A student claimed Peterson took $200 from him, suspecting the money to have come from a drug deal, when it was to be used to pay for a Valentine's dinner date, reportedly confirmed by the student's mother. "As alleged, the basis for Peterson's search was not reasonable," Bloom wrote. Peterson could still be on the hook in another suit brought by the family of shooting victim Meadow Pollack. A Broward Circuit judge last week rejected Peterson's argument that he had "no legal duty" to protect students and faculty at the school, per the Orlando Sentinel. Several lawsuits filed by parents of Parkland students remain in state court. (Peterson described "seven chaotic minutes.")

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