Florida Supreme Court to Weigh Government Liability in Parkland Shooting

A general view of a make shift memorial setup at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at the one-year anniversary in honor of those killed during a Feb. 2018 mass shooting.

A general view of a make shift memorial setup at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School at the one-year anniversary in honor of those killed during a Feb. 2018 mass shooting. mpi04/MediaPunch /IPX via AP Photo


Connecting state and local government leaders

STATE AND LOCAL ROUNDUP | Alabama tornados and fatalities ... A Kentucky city is creating a registry of convicted animal abusers ... Closures of "board-and-care" homes in California.

The Florida Supreme Court will consider arguments about how much the Broward County School Board could have to pay in lawsuits filed about the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The board has received notice about more than 100 possible pending legal challenges about the shooting, Education Week reported at the end of last year. Just last week, 22 lawsuits were filed against the school board, Broward’s Sheriff’s Office and a behavioral health office, accusing them of negligence in the shooting by accused gunman Nikolas Cruz. The school system and mental health center are accused of not responding correctly to warning signs from Cruz before the incident, while the sheriff’s office is blamed for failing to follow active-shooter protocol, the Miami Herald reported. Lawyers for the parents of students who were killed or injured in the shooting, which left 17 people dead and 17 injured in February 2018, said they filed the lawsuits after determining the school board was working against their efforts to get compensation through the Legislature. But representatives for the board said this was not accurate. The issue that will be before the Supreme Court in August, which is from an earlier lawsuit, is exactly how much the school board could be responsible for paying under the state’s law limiting how much government agencies can be obliged to pay in a lawsuit. The board says the law puts a $300,000 cap on how much it could owe, while plaintiffs say the limits should be $200,000 per victim. [Miami Herald; Education Week; New York Times]

ALABAMA TORNADOS | Alabama has the deadliest tornados of any state in the country, with more fatalities despite having fewer twisters each year than other states. In an in-depth look at the phenomenon, the Montgomery Advertiser notes that many factors could be contributors, such as higher population density in Alabama compared to other states, like Kansas, with more tornados. Alabama residents are also more likely to live in manufactured homes, while tornados in the south tend to move faster. [Montgomery Advertiser]

ABUSED ANIMALS | Louisville, Kentucky is creating a public registry of people convicted of abusing animals, which animal shelters and pet stores would be required to consult when somebody is adopting or buying a pet. Proponents say the move will ensure that people who harm animals can’t do so again. But animal welfare groups are split on the concept, which has been adopted in other locations. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says they don’t see these registries as an effective response to animal cruelty. [Courier-Journal]

COMMUNITY GRANTS | Despite the creation years ago of a non-profit group to determine which community groups should get city grants for arts programming and other neighborhood activities, a review by the Philadelphia Inquirer found that city council members are making the decisions about which organizations to give money to. Each of the 10 members effectively doles out $220,000 each year. [Philadelphia Inquirer]

HOUSING FOR THE MENTALLY ILL | “Board-and-care” homes that provide a place for low-income mentally ill people to live are becoming more scarce in California, CALmatters reports. This is driven in part by California’s high housing costs, along with low reimbursement rates for the facilities. These licensed facilities, which provide 24-hour care and meals for residents, receive $1,058 from the state each month. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg noted that they aren’t “the perfect solution for everybody. But, perspective here: it’s real shelter with care. The losses here are only making an already horrendous problem worse.” [CALmatters]

Laura Maggi is the Managing Editor of Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

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