DOJ reaches massive settlement with Parkland massacre victims’ families over FBI failure

The Biden Justice Department has reached a settlement with the families of victims of the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., agreeing to pay $127.5 million to the plaintiffs.

The families announced the settlement Monday, after suing the federal government over the FBI’s failure to stop the gunman after receiving information he intended to attack, the Miami Herald reported. The shooting resulted in 17 deaths and is one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

Claims made by 40 survivors and families of 16 of the 17 people killed in the shooting — the 17th family chose not to sue — were reportedly resolved with the settlement.

Miami attorney Stuart Grossman, whose law firm represented five Parkland high school families in the litigation, confirmed the payout amount with the Herald.

“It has been an honor to represent the Parkland families who, through their immeasurable grief, have devoted themselves to making the world a safer place,” lead attorney Kristina Infante said in a statement. “Although no resolution could ever restore what the Parkland families lost, this settlement marks an important step toward justice.”

Andrew Pollack, whose 18-year-old daughter Meadow died in the shooting, said of the bureau’s failing, “The FBI has made changes to make sure this never happens again.”

The grieving father believes the FBI, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office, and the school district all failed to stop the shooter and have ducked responsibility, according to the newspaper.

Here’s more from the Herald on the FBI’s actions leading up to the Feb. 14, 2018 shooting:

About five weeks before the Feb. 14, 2018, shooting, an FBI tip line received a call saying a former Stoneman Douglas student, Nikolas Cruz, had bought guns and planned to “slip into a school and start shooting the place up.”

“I know he’s going to explode,” the caller told the FBI.

But that information was never forwarded to the FBI’s South Florida office and Cruz was never contacted. He had been expelled from the school a year earlier and had a long history of emotional and behavioral problems.

 

In October, the now 23-year-old gunman, Nikolas Cruz, pleaded guilty to killing 14 students and three faculty members. He faces a minimum of life in prison and maximum of the death penalty, which will be determined by a jury in the upcoming sentencing phase of the trial.

Cruz offered a rambling apology in court that suggests he’s still struggling to come to terms with his actions.

“I am very sorry for what I did, and I have to live with it every day. If I were to get a second chance, I would do everything in my power to try to help others,” he said. “I am doing this for you, and I do not care if you do not believe me. And I love you, and I know you don’t believe me, but I have to live with this every day, and it brings me nightmares and I can’t live with myself sometimes, but I try to push through because I know that’s what you guys would want me to do.

“I hate drugs, and I believe this country would do better if everyone would stop smoking marijuana and doing all these drugs and causing racism and violence out in the streets,” he continued. “I’m sorry, and I can’t even watch TV anymore. And I’m trying my best to maintain my composure, and I just want you to know I’m really sorry, and I hope you give me a chance to try to help others. I believe it’s your decision to decide where I go, and whether I live or die. Not the jury’s. I believe it’s your decision. I’m sorry.”

One day before Cruz’s guilty plea, Broward County Public Schools agreed to pay $25 million to the families of the 17 fatal victims, as well as 16 of the 17 victims who were wounded but survived the shooting, the Herald reported at the time.

“I’m humbled and honored to represent the parents of four murdered innocent students and a fifth student who was shot multiple times but miraculously survived,” attorney David Brill said in an email statement.

“There isn’t enough money in existence that would compensate the victims and their families adequately,” he added. “But this settlement provides a measure of justice and accountability to them and the other families and victims.”

Tom Tillison

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