Court: $300K total liability cap for school shooting victims

September 25, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a school district can’t be forced to pay more than $300,000 total to the victims or their families in the Parkland high school massacre that left 17 people dead and another 17 wounded.

Justices unanimously sided with Broward County Public Schools, agreeing that the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was a single incident. The victims and their families had argued that each pull of the trigger was a separate occurrence for which the school district should be held liable.

After a trial judge agreed with the Broward County School Board, an appeals court asked the Supreme Court to answer the question of whether each victim represents a separate occurrence.

State law caps government agencies’ liability in civil lawsuits at $200,000 per individual and $300,000 per incident. Any jury award above that amount has to be approved by the Legislature and governor. Without that, each victim or family in the Parkland shooting would receive an average of less than $9,000.

Nikolas Cruz is awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges for the shooting and faces a possible death sentence.

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