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Parkland parents appeal mental health rulings

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Gavel (Pixlr)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Parents of victims in the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School have gone to the Florida Supreme Court in disputes about alleged negligence by a mental-health facility that provided services to accused shooter Nikolas Cruz.

Andrew Pollack and Shara Kaplan, parents of slain student Meadow Pollack, and Royer Borges and Emely Delfin, parents of seriously injured student Anthony Borges, have filed notices that they are appealing rulings last month by the 4th District Court of Appeal that said Henderson Behavioral Health, Inc., cannot be held liable in the shooting, according to documents posted Tuesday on the Supreme Court website.

The parents allege that the mental-health facility was negligent, at least in part, for failing to prevent Cruz from being mainstreamed into the public-school system and for failing to warn about dangers posed by Cruz, a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student at the time of the shooting. But in the Pollack case, the appeals court said the “theories of liability are undermined by Florida law establishing that a criminal attack on third parties by an outpatient mental health patient is not within the foreseeable zone of risk created by the mental health provider. Florida law does not recognize a duty of mental health providers to warn third parties that a patient may be dangerous.”

As is common, the notices of appeal do not detail arguments that attorneys for the parents will make at the Supreme Court.

Meadow Pollack was one of 17 students and faculty members who were killed Feb. 14, 2018, at the Parkland school, while Anthony Borges was one of 17 others who were wounded.

Cruz is awaiting trial.