After their children were killed in the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas school shooting, parents sued the Broward School Board and the sheriff for their loss. Now, the parents are outraged at being asked to turn in psychiatric records to prove they suffered mental anguish from the Parkland tragedy in their ongoing lawsuit.
The parents’ lawsuit places blame on the district for failing to identify and stop the threat posed by gunman Nikolas Cruz. The latest demand has families enraged and at least a dozen families have objected to it, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
In formal court responses, School Board member Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter was one of 17 killed on February 14, called the demand “harassing, burdensome” and an invasion of privacy.
Robert Kelly, Alhadeff’s lawyer, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he doesn’t think the records are relevant. Typically, plaintiffs in civil cases prove their pain and suffering from their own testimony, or the testimony of friends and/or loved ones.
Demands Are “Ripping Open the Scab”
In a written response, the district stated that it “recognizes the sensitive nature of these records,” but maintained they are necessary to claims involving pain and suffering.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the demand for records is one of 75 questions asked of victims in a template. Other questions include demands for evidence of funeral expenses, media interviews the victims have done, and tax returns to show lost income.
“If there are claims, you get the records to support those claims,” School Board lawyer Eugene Pettis told the newspaper. “It’s happened in every such case I’ve tried.”
“Providing proof of loss, while absolutely necessary in any wrongful death case, is like ripping open the scab again and again and again,” David Brill, who is representing three sets of parents and a surviving student, told the paper. “It hurts.”