The father of one of 17 students who were killed in the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas School in Parkland, Florida, has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Broward County Sheriff Deputy who allegedly failed to respond to the incident, the gunman Nikolas Cruz and other parties, the Sun-Sentinel reports. The deputy, Scot Peterson, was the school resource officer at the time of the Feb. 14 school shooting, who has come under intense public scrutiny and criticism after officials said he failed to go into the building while the shooting was occurring and help stop it.
What the Lawsuit Alleges
The wrongful death lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages as well as a jury trial. The student's father who filed the lawsuit said it's not about the money. He says he wishes to expose Peterson's cowardice in failing to respond to the shooting. Peterson's inaction has been criticized by many including Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel who said the school resource officer should have done his job by going in right away and should have killed Cruz who opened fire on the students, teachers and staff members.
The lawsuit alleges that Peterson never tried to enter Building 12 where the shooting took place for five whole minutes. Instead, the deputy listened to the gunfire and the horrifying sounds of teachers and students screaming as they died. In addition to the deputy, the lawsuit also names the couple who took Cruz into their home after the death of his mother. Cruz was living with them at the time of the shooting. The complaint also names the behavioral health center, which it alleged should have known Cruz suffered from mental illness and posed a danger to others.
Role of Wrongful Death Lawsuits
A wrongful death lawsuit is typically filed from the family or the survivors of a deceased individual who died as a result of someone else's negligence or wrongdoing. Wrongful death lawsuits commonly stem from assaults, traffic accidents, and medical malpractice. A wrongful death lawsuit can be brought by immediate family members of a deceased person such as a spouse or partner and children who are minors or grown. Other family members who may be eligible to bring a wrongful death claim include the deceased individual's parents, siblings or anyone else who was financially dependent on the victim.
Unlike a criminal action at the conclusion of which the defendant could be found guilty and sentenced to time in prison or given the death penalty, a wrongful death lawsuit holds not just the defendant, but others who contributed to the fatalities, accountable for their actions or lack of action. Those who are found “liable” in a wrongful death case are held financially responsible for the damages and losses caused and are ordered to pay compensation to the decedent's survivors.
Compensation that may be sought in such cases includes medical expenses incurred when the decedent was alive, funeral and burial costs, lost future income, pain and suffering, and loss of love and companionship. While such wrongful death claims are a way for survivors of the defendants to recoup monetary losses, it is also a means to seek and obtain justice, hold wrongdoers and negligent parties accountable, and deterring such negligence or inaction in the future.