Court Rules Mental Health Provider Not Liable for Parkland Shooter’s Actions

parkland shooting nikolas cruz

(Michael Laughlin/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP, Pool)

By Curt Anderson, AP

A mental health provider cannot be held liable for the actions of a man accused of a 2018 Florida high school massacre, an appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Henderson Behavioral Health Inc. treated Nikolas Cruz off and on from 2009 to 2016, court records show. Cruz had multiple mental issues, including a fascination with violence, weapons and death, but was eventually mainstreamed into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

That school was where Cruz is accused of fatally shooting 17 people and wounding 17 others in the Valentine’s Day 2018 attack. At the time, he was no longer a student there. Parents of some victims sued Henderson and others, claiming that a failure to prevent the attack amounted to negligence.

The 4th District Court of Appeal agreed Wednesday with a lower court that Henderson could not be held negligent for failing to prevent Cruz from being mainstreamed into school and not adequately warning school officials about his “dangerous propensities.”

“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 wrote.

“In this case, a holding that Henderson owed a legal duty to protect or warn students that attended the same school as one of its patients would not only undermine effective patient-therapist relationships, but it also would discourage mental health professionals from providing mental health services to students,” they added.

The court also noted that the final decision on mainstreaming Cruz was made by the Broward County School Board, with input from Henderson and others.

Cruz, 21, faces the death penalty if convicted in the mass slayings. Because of the coronavirus, a hearing on setting a trial date has been postponed several times and now is going to be conducted by remote video on June 22.

Although he has pleaded not guilty, Cruz’s attorneys say he would admit to the killings in exchange for a life prison sentence, but Broward County prosecutors have rejected that offer.

comments

  1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    The shooter is not responsible either. It’s the rifle’s fault!

    1. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

      Naw…the bullets…without bullets the gun is a paperweight…

  2. avatar FormerParatrooper says:

    He is solely responsible for his actions. Personal responsibility used to be something people had, and believed. We have as a society laid the blame away from the individual and to society at large and inanimate objects. Until we return to the simple concept that individuals are responsible for their actions we will continue to fail.

    1. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

      1,000 up votes for this….yes…personal responsibility…OWN IT!

    2. avatar BuckeyeMike says:

      But lawyers aren’t able to sue him. He has no worth. A Healthcare facility, on the other hand, has large amounts of insurance that any scumbag lawyer would like to get their hands on.

  3. avatar Roger J says:

    Hang the little bastard.

    1. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

      That or a firing squad.

      1. avatar Darkman says:

        Fantail his Ass. For those unfamiliar with fantailing. First a long boat ride out in the ocean. Followed by numerous buckets of chum. Then a PFD followed by handcuffs. Then a swim. Let nature take it’s course. Works in the swamp also. Either way problem solved. Scumbag gets to experience a little of the terror he perpetrated on his victims.

        1. avatar eagle10 says:

          From Charlie Daniels:

          “Just take them rascals out in the swamp
          Put ’em on their knees and tie ’em to a stump
          Let the rattlers and the bugs and the alligators do the rest”

    2. avatar Southern Cross says:

      A fair trial followed by a fair hanging. And not the long drop either. Also no hood and wearing white. Upload a video to YouTube as a warning to others. Your death will not be pleasant or dignified.

  4. avatar former water walker says:

    No one but an AR15 is responsible Mr.Gunowner. Not holding my breath this evil punk will take a dirtnap…

  5. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    The only one liable for the Parkland Shooter’s Actions is the shooter,PERIOD.

  6. avatar American Patriot says:

    Hmmmm…..Seems to me the “mental health Professionals” should know Mo better than the Gun mfr……But I could be wrong!

  7. avatar Shire-man says:

    If he was a diddler wouldn’t be the law to notify everyone in the world of his diddling even if he were in therapy?

    Why wouldn’t that notification damage the patient/therapist relationship?

    1. avatar Hydguy says:

      Because not everyone who has mental health issue and is seeing a therapist is a threat.
      Every pedophile is.

  8. avatar enuf says:

    The failures at the root of this and similar examples of mass targeted killings is in the political leadership. The evidence that mental health infrastructure is a dysfunctional and ineffective mess is blatantly obvious. Yet nothing ever gets done other than words. Words that focu on unrelated or false causes that serve political goals, not problem solving goals.

    In another outlandish case, that of Sandy Hook, the boy’s mother tried in rising desperation for years to get her son into mental health care. All efforts were reubffed including by a courrt that said he was now too old to be committed unless he committed an act of violence. Finally, he killed his mother first, then all those little children and staff.

    Over and over again we see this sort of thing. The systems that should be helping are underfunded, understaffed and built upon shaky, or conflicting or toothless laws and regulations. The cause is entirely political. For building a robust and working system fits no factions narrative of the nation’s troubles or the logical fixes for those problems. All sides will look upon the major news events and hijack the topic to their own preferred emotional hot button issue.

    Anyone with the mental health warning signs of that kid should have been committed to a secure institution. We have few paths to do this and only a fraction of the funding to support it.

    Which brings about a question. Had Henderson Behavioral Health sought to commit the boy to secured resident care, was that even a realistic option? What facilities were available? With what track record of care and security? What laws and what funding would have made it all a workable and realistic path to go down?

    I don’t see the logic of holding that company at fault if the option that was needed was a phony one, existing only in hopes and dreams not in reality.

    1. avatar Dude says:

      With or without the funding, I don’t think the states have the power to commit people like they used to. This was settled in court back in the 60’s and 70’s.

      1. avatar binder says:

        Oh come on, it was great to be put locked up for having bad thoughts

  9. avatar Jimmy Beam says:

    Um … if a mental health professional can’t be held liable for this screwup, how the hell can just anybody, untrained in “mental health,” submit a red flag to have someone’s firearms taken away??

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      Because the left agrees with them. When they screw up it’s a different matter.
      Confused yet?

    2. avatar Dude says:

      Because “better safe than sorry” and we should “err on the side of caution”. And basically, “that’s your problem”.

  10. avatar Ralph says:

    That pr!ck is responsible for his own actions. And the Broward Cowards who facilitated his actions are responsible for their actions. But mental health professionals cannot be held responsible for their actions because nobody in their right minds think that they actually help people.

  11. avatar GS650G says:

    Too bad the cops didn’t do him on the street.

  12. avatar Leighton Cavendish says:

    And the same goes for the gun maker…just as you can’t sue either the car maker or alcohol maker when someone is killed in a DUI/DWI…

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Repealing the PLCAA will open that can of worms and make many lawyers very rich.

  13. avatar James W Crawford says:

    I would closely examine the decisions by the various judges and the attorneys that enabled this violent criminal to be on the loose. Judges often render imbecilic rulings and findings of fact that allow these criminals to kill. Corrupt attorneys often present false information or perjured testimony. It should not be unheard of for judges and attorneys to be held civilly or even criminally liable. Personally, I favor lynchings or even good old fashioned public stonings.

  14. avatar John E> says:

    For a commitment the court has to intervene, the beh. health provider can petition but it is usually up to the court, an advocate, and a delegate to make those decisions.

  15. avatar DaveL says:

    It’s the legally correct decision, founded on long precedent. But it also serves as a reminder that those who want control over everything will accept responsibility for nothing.

  16. avatar RGP says:

    Naturally…. nobody who actually had any level of responsibility was responsible for anything in this case.

  17. avatar Hannibal says:

    ““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 wrote.”

    This is when the courts are seeking a way to avoid making a ruling that would make entirely too much sense.

    You see the same “special relationship” indemnification when the courts ruled that police officers failing to do anything about a man getting stabbed on a subway car next to them couldn’t be liable because they didn’t have a “special” duty to that specific individual.

  18. avatar neiowa says:

    I wonder how many thousand taxpayer $ were passed to Henderson Behavioral Health Inc.?

  19. avatar Debbie W. says:

    Let’s see…If I know my dog is prone to bite and it can be proven and I say nothing and the dog bites someone I am not liable? Problem is there is a laundry list of people who were aware of Cruz’s mental issues and all buried their heads in the sand. To single out some individual is allowing others to skate. To cover their own incompetence those who were in charge of security now want to look tough and go for the death penalty. Unfortunately Cruz has grounds for an insanity defense which all who gave him a pass and posted Gun Free Zone signs can testify.

  20. avatar BusyBeef says:

    Don’t use his name.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email