'They Failed Me That Day': Parkland Families Sue Over School Massacre
The Broward School Board undermined the families of the victims of last year’s mass shootings at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, promising to do what’s right for those killed and injured while dragging its feet in negotiations and working against the families in Tallahassee, attorneys for the victims said Wednesday.
Announcing a slew of lawsuits against the Broward School District, Broward Sheriff’s Office and others accused of being negligence in their duties to keep schools safe, attorney Todd Michaels said the school district is trying to block claims bills in the Legislature that would release millions of dollars for compensation and punitive damages.
“Our goal has always been to hold the School Board and other responsible entities accountable,” said Michaels, of the Haggard Law Firm. “The School Board said it wanted to cooperate. But we did not get accountability. We only got a promise.”
Thirteen law firms representing 26 families and survivors announced they are filing 22 lawsuits targeting the failures to take responsibility for negligent behavior that led to the tragedy, said Michaels. Some of the lawsuits were filed Wednesday.
“Actions speak louder than words and the victims and victims’ families have been very patient,” he said in a statement.
“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’ firm represents the families of students Joaquin Oliver and teacher Scott Beigel, as well as injured teacher Stacey Lippel.
Mitch Dworet, whose lawsuit is being handled by attorney Michael Goldfarb, said he has been disappointed with the school district’s actions since the shooting.
“The first thing they are responsible for is the safety of our children,” said Dworet, whose son, Nick, was among those killed. “They failed. They failed me that day.”
In the state legislature, bills seeking to avert litigation by creating a taxpayer-backed assistance fund haven’t gotten a hearing, and they aren’t likely to pass this session, which ends on May 3.
The shooter killed 17 students and staff, and wounded 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High on Feb. 14, 2018. Some of the attorneys have indicated their lawsuits will help spark safety changes to further protect other families from such tragedy.
Staff writer Skyler Swisher contributed to this report.