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Florida Fourth DCA affirms trial court’s denial of defendant security guard's motion to dismiss on sovereign immunity grounds in wrongful death lawsuit arising from 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting

On  July 1, 2020, in Medina v. Pollack, No. 4D19-777, the Florida Fourth DCA affirmed a trial court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint based on sovereign immunity in  a wrongful death lawsuit brought against a school security guard by the family of one of the victims of the mass shooting in 2018 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The defendant was one of the unarmed campus monitors on duty. He moved to dismiss the complaint against him based on Florida’s sovereign immunity statute, section 768.28(9), Florida Statutes, contending that as a matter of law the complaint failed to show that he acted in bad faith or in a manner exhibiting willful and wanton disregard of human rights. The Fourth DCA concluded that the allegations of the complaint were sufficient to survive the motion to dismiss. The Court noted that the complaint states that the defendant (1) observed the shooter exit a vehicle with a rifle case, (2) knew that the shooter had been identified as the one person who might shoot up the school at some point, (3) instead of calling a Code Red, which would have locked down the school and prevented the shooter’s entry into any building, radioed a friend in building 12 (where the shooting ultimately occurred) because he didn’t want to be the “guy” who might call in a “million” cops there for nothing, and (4) allowed the shooter to cross the campus and enter Building 12.  The Fourth DCA concluded that “[t]aken together, and knowing the extreme danger [the shooter] posed, Medina’s actions, as alleged, can constitute conscious and intentional indifference to the consequences of his actions and that he knowingly and purposely failed to call the Code Red.”

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