Florida Supreme Court to decide how much Broward school district could pay in Parkland lawsuits

The Florida Supreme Court said it will hear arguments in a dispute about how much the Broward County School Board could be forced to pay to parents and victims in last year’s mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

Justices issued a unanimous order saying they will take up the case and will hold oral arguments Aug. 28. They also scheduled arguments that day in a case against the Florida Department of Children and Families that raises similar liability questions.

The issue centers on the state’s sovereign-immunity law, which limits how much government agencies can be forced to pay in lawsuits, and how the liability limits should apply when multiple people are killed or injured in incidents.

The Broward County School Board has argued that the sovereign-immunity law caps at $300,000 its potential liability to the parents and victims in the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting at the Parkland high school. The dispute involves whether that $300,000 limit should be an overall total because the mass shooting was a single incident — or whether each plaintiff filing a claim against the school board should be able to receive $200,000 because the shots were separate occurrences.

The South Florida appellate court said the issues are “of great public importance or will have a great effect on the proper administration of justice throughout the state.” With the order Friday, the Supreme Court accepted the case.

In the December ruling, the Broward County circuit judge cited a 4th District Court of Appeal ruling in a case that alleges the Florida Department of Children and Families acted negligently before Palm Beach County resident Patrick Dell in 2010 fatally shot four of his stepchildren and injured one.

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