The Broward School district has moved to clamp down on having its employees questioned in a civil suit filed by a Parkland father related to the February 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
On Monday, an attorney for the school system asked a Broward Circuit Court judge to cancel the depositions of seven school officials, including three assistant principals who worked at the school.
“This lawsuit should not be a fishing expedition allowing the plaintiffs and their counsel to depose any of the thousands of district employees,” wrote the lawyer, Eugene K. Pettis.
Pettis also asked the judge to narrowly focus any questioning of employees, bar the media from attending, and prevent participants from sharing testimony with journalists.
“Much of the questioning appears calculated to harassing the witness, detracting from the pending litigation, and generating media attention which, in and of itself, could be seen as an effort to taint the local jury pool.”
The court motion is the latest effort by the school district to carefully control what information is made public about the school shooting that injured 34 people, killing 17 of them.
The suit was filed by Andrew Pollack and Shara Kaplan, the parents of Meadow Pollack, who died on the school’s third floor. She was a senior.
The wrongful death claim is against numerous parties, including the gunman as well as the sheriff’s deputy at the school, Scot Peterson. The only school employee sued, however, is Andrew Medina, the gate monitor who did not call for a lock down of the school despite seeing a teen enter campus carrying a rifle bag and hearing suspicious noises.
In its filing Monday, the school district argues that Pollack and his attorney, David Brill, have gone far afield in their questioning to date of two school district employees: Craig Nichols, the former chief of human resources, and School Board member Nora Rupert.
Instead of focusing on Medina and his immediate conduct on that day, the questioning of Nichols spanned “years before the tragic incident,” and delved into matters that “clearly have no bearing on or relevance” to the suit, Pettis argues.
The court filing claims that Andrew Pollack and his lawyer badgered Nichols with repeated rhetorical questions and showed him a photo of the 17 dead and asked if they had been treated fairly.
The school district also reported that Pollack “made snide comments” in the deposition when counsel for the sheriff’s deputy did not recognize the name of April Schentrup, the parent of another dead girl.