The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas school on February 14, 2018 was a national tragedy. Seventeen students would lose their life on that day when a former classmate came onto the grounds with a semi-automatic rifle and began shooting. Another 17 students were injured.
Many people have been blamed for failing to stop the attack, and one of them is Andrew Medina, who worked as a monitor on the day the shooting occurred. According to reports, Mr. Medina failed to call a Code Red when he saw a former student enter the premises and run toward a building where the shooting began.
Holding School Employees Responsible for Deaths
Bringing a wrongful death lawsuit against a school employee is difficult. Florida law protects them from most negligence lawsuits. However, if the employee acted in bad faith or exhibited malice or willful disregard for the safety of others, then a suit can go forward even against a school official.
NBC News reports that Mr. Medina has asked a Florida appellate court to halt the wrongful death suit filed against him. His attorney has argued that Medina had no way of knowing that the perpetrator came onto the property to commit murder.
Based on his own accounts of that day, Medina did follow the student and ultimately sent a radio warning to a fellow monitor in the building where the shootings occurred. (That monitor allegedly hid in a closet). Asking Medina to do more, his attorney argued, would be unreasonable.
However, lawyers for the plaintiffs (parents of murdered students) argued that they included enough factual allegations for the lawsuit to go forward. In particular, the plaintiffs’ counsel argued that Medina saw someone running toward the school with a black bag and that he recognized the person as a troubled former student.
Establishing Liability for a Wrongful Death
Even if the parents can go forward with their lawsuit, this does not mean that they will win. Proving malice or reckless indifference is difficult, and the facts as we know them do not point clearly in one direction or the other. A jury might find that Mr. Medina was merely careless but not malicious or indifferent, in which case he would not be legally responsible for the deaths. We will have to wait several more months for the appellate court to rule whether the case can go forward.
If a loved one has died in a shooting, you might have a legal claim for wrongful death. Please contact Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum Bluestein today. Our Miami wrongful death attorneys offer free consultations to those who call 305-371-2692.