Parents of the teenagers who died in the 2018 school shooting in Parkland, Florida, are being asked to turn over their psychiatric records to prove that they suffered mental anguish after the deaths of their children.
The Broward County School District asked parents involved in a wrongful death lawsuit to turn over their current psychiatric records along with any psychiatric records from 10 years prior to the shooting to “identify any permanent mental injuries.” Robert Kelley, an attorney for one of the families, said it is rare for families to have to prove their grief in such lawsuits.
“I personally don’t think the records are relevant,” Kelley told the Sun-Sentinel. “I don’t think anyone is going to dispute that these families have suffered mental anguish.”
Parents who joined in the lawsuit alleged that the Broward County School District failed to protect their children during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14, 2018, when a gunman opened fire and killed 17 people.
The accused shooter, Nikolas Cruz, had a lengthy record of making threats against the school, but the district did little to prevent the shooting, according to the lawsuit. Cruz’s death penalty case has been stalled by his attorneys, who argue that they’ve had little time with their client in recent months because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The parents argue that the school should be liable to pay damages for their suffering. At least a dozen of the 75 individuals included in the lawsuit have objected to having to share their psychiatric records with the court.
In addition to psychiatric records, the district demanded records of other expenses, including funeral costs and lost wages. Eugene Pettis, an attorney for the district, said the records are necessary to prove the losses alleged by the family.
“You always get the records,” Pettis said. “If there are claims, you get the records to support those claims. It’s happened in every such case I’ve tried.”
Broward Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning, who is overseeing the lawsuit, will decide on Thursday what information each person will have to share with the court in the discovery process.
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