How many crimes is a mass shooting? Florida Supreme Court will weigh in.

There was more than one shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February 2018.

More than 100 bullets were fired. Hundreds of people were traumatized. Seventeen were critically injured. Seventeen more were killed.

The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to take on a case with huge ramifications for the Parkland high school massacre’s victims — is a mass shooting one incident, or many?

The answer could save or cost the state millions of dollars, and not just in Parkland. Insurance companies say mass shootings qualify as a single incident, capping the state’s liability at $300,000 to be divided among all the victims.

But if the court rules that they are separate incidents, the state’s liability becomes $200,000 for each victim, from the families of the murdered to the survivors of bullet wounds and even to those who were physically unharmed but still traumatized by the terror of Nikolas Cruz’s bloody rampage.

The case before the Supreme Court does not involve Parkland — it was brought in Palm Beach County against the Florida Department of Children and Families, which had investigated a Riviera Beach resident named Patrick Dell in 2009 for threatening his wife and stepchildren with a knife.

Dell went on to fatally shoot his wife and four of his stepchildren, then himself. A fifth stepchild survived.

The lawsuit was filed by the biological father of three of the murdered children. The father of the other children has filed a separate lawsuit and is making identical arguments.

A single incident, he said, would be something like a school bus driver running a red light and causing an accident that injured multiple people.

“One act of negligence,” he said. “All we’re really asking for is a fair interpretation of the statute.”

In liability cases, insurance companies representing state agencies handle the payouts. When the figure is too low, it’s up to the state Legislature to approve a payout from state funds.

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