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Florida Supreme Court Justices Turn Down Parkland Parents' Appeals

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Leslie Ovalle
/
WLRN.org

The Florida Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to take up cases in which parents of victims of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School alleged negligence by a mental-health facility that provided services to accused shooter Nikolas Cruz.

Justices issued two orders declining to take up appeals filed by Andrew Pollack and Shara Kaplan, parents of slain student Meadow Pollack, and Royer Borges and Emely Delfin, parents of seriously injured student Anthony Borges. As is common, the Supreme Court did not explain its reasons for the decisions.

The parents went to the Supreme Court after the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled in May that Henderson Behavioral Health, Inc., cannot be held liable in the shooting. The parents alleged that the mental-health facility was negligent, at least in part, for failing to prevent Cruz from being mainstreamed into the public-school system and for failing to warn about dangers posed by Cruz, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student at the time of the shooting.

But in the Pollack case, the appeals court said the “theories of liability are undermined by Florida law establishing that a criminal attack on third parties by an outpatient mental health patient is not within the foreseeable zone of risk created by the mental health provider. Florida law does not recognize a duty of mental health providers to warn third parties that a patient may be dangerous.”

Meadow Pollack was one of 17 students and faculty members who were killed Feb. 14, 2018, at the Parkland school, while Anthony Borges was one of 17 others who were wounded. Cruz is awaiting trial on murder charges.