Parkland victims' families file lawsuits against BSO, school district

Lawyer blames 'bungling bureaucrats' for forcing legal action

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor, Ian Margol - Reporter

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - The families of several Parkland school shooting victims are filing lawsuits against the Broward County school district, Broward Sheriff's Office, a former school resource deputy and a former campus monitor.

Lawyers for family members of the victims held a news conference Wednesday morning explaining that the inaction of county officials has left them no choice but to file the lawsuits.

"Actions speak louder than words, and the victims and victims' families have been very patient," attorney Todd Michaels said.

Michaels represents the families of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student Joaquin Oliver and teacher Scott Biegel, who were two of the 17 victims killed in the February 2018 mass shooting.

"By its actions to date, it has become clear that the school board has no intention of taking responsibility the families have asked for, so the patience of these families and survivors who have waited to officially file their lawsuits has ended," Michaels said.

Attorney Robert Kelley blamed "bungling bureaucrats" who refuse to accept responsibility.

"Broward County lifted checkpoints and knocked down barriers that could have changed the outcome of Feb. 14,”  Lisa Olson, whose son William was wounded in the shooting.

The families and attorneys said instead of coming together and creating a monetary fund to help the families, some of the entities they hold responsible have actually hired attorneys and lobbyists to fight against them.

Kelley, who represents Alyssa Alhadeff's mother, Lori Alhadeff, called it a waste of taxpayers' dollars.

"So our clients, despite the fact that all the lawyers in this room and all the clients in this room have been working for months now to try and reach a peaceful resolution of this without having to go to court, we are now being forced into court to get justice for our clients."

In addition to the BSO and Broward County Public Schools, the lawsuits also name former BSO Deputy Scot Peterson, campus monitor Andrew Medina and Henderson Behavioral Health.

All of them, the family members said, share some of the blame for this tragedy.

“(Nikolas Cruz) came in and massacred 17 human beings, and Broward County are responsible for that because they are there to protect our students,” said Anne Ramsay, whose daughter, Helena, was killed. 

A total of 13 law firms are representing 26 survivors and their families in 22 civil suits.

Broward County Public Schools said it has never done any lobbying against a compensation fund, while the Broward County Sheriff’s Office said it does not comment on pending litigation.

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