Story at a glance
- A Florida mental health clinic was found not responsible for Florida school shooting.
- Suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz is on trial for the Parkland school massacre.
An appeals court in Florida ruled that a mental health care provider cannot be held liable for the actions of Nikolas Cruz, the alleged shooter in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School massacre, according to the Associated Press (AP).
Stoneman Douglas, located in Parkland, Fla, caught national attention when a shooter killed 17 people — three faculty members and 14 students — and wounded 17 others on Feb. 14, 2018.
The massacre reinvigorated already palpable debates about gun violence in America and launched the March for Our Lives demonstration in March 2018.
The mental health facility in the case, Henderson Behavioral Health Inc., treated Cruz off and on for about seven years between 2009 and 2016. Cruz reportedly had several mental health issues, but still attended school at Stoneman Douglas.
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When the shooting occurred, Cruz was not enrolled at Stoneman Douglas. At the crux of this case are some parents’ arguments that Henderson is partly liable for failing to prevent the attack, saying it amounted to negligence, per AP reporting.
On Wednesday, the 4th District Court of Appeal concurred with a lower court’s previous ruling and determined that Henderson could not be held liable for the shooting, and was not negligent in failing to prevent Cruz’s mainstreaming or reporting his “dangerous propensities.”
The judges reportedly wrote that “Although there may be a special relationship between Henderson and Cruz and separately between the high school and its students, there is no special relationship between a student patient’s mental health provider and other students who attend school with the patient.”
The judges further ruled that if Henderson did owe a legal duty to the school to disclose patient details, it would undermine the doctor-patient confidentiality relationship and potentially disincentivize mental health professionals from treating students.
Cruz, now 21, is eligible for death if convicted of the massacre. The coronavirus pandemic has postponed the trial date until June 22, to be conducted remotely.
Cruz has pleaded not guilty.