Judge dismisses Parkland case, saying school doesn't have duty to protect students

Victims of school shooting sought damages against district, sheriff's office

PARKLAND, Fla. – A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit brought by 15 students who survived the Parkland school shooting, saying the school district and the sheriff's office do not have a constitutional duty to protect students.

The plaintiffs argued that the school district and the Broward Sheriff's Office failed to protect them from gunman Nikolas Cruz despite many warnings about his behavior before the Valentine's Day mass shooting that left 17 people dead and more than a dozen people wounded.

Several current and former county employees, including former school resource Deputy Scot Peterson, were also named in the suit.

The original lawsuit singled out Peterson, who failed to confront Cruz during the shooting despite being armed. Another school employee, Andrew Medina, failed to protect the students when he noticed Cruz approaching the building but did not order a campus lockdown, the original lawsuit said.

However, Judge Beth Bloom in a ruling issued last week agreed with the defendants that "there is no constitutional duty to protect students from harm inflicted by third parties."

Bloom said in the ruling that students -- unlike mental patients and prison inmates -- are not in a custodial relationship with the state.

"Absent that type of restraint, there can be no concomitant duty to provide for the student's safety and general well-being," the ruling said.