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Appeals Court Clears Way for Case Against Parkland School Monitor

Referring to a failure to call a “Code Red” that could have locked down the school, an appeals court on Wednesday refused to dismiss a case against a campus security monitor who noticed and followed accused gunman Nikolas Cruz before the deadly 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.

A three-judge panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal rejected arguments that former campus monitor Andrew Medina should be dismissed from a civil lawsuit that was filed by Andrew Pollack and Shara Kaplan, parents of Meadow Pollack, one of the students who was killed in the massacre.

Medina claimed that he cannot be held liable because of sovereign immunity, a legal concept that shields government employees from lawsuits.

However, part of a state sovereign-immunity law allows such lawsuits to continue if employees act “in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety, or property.”

The appeals court, in upholding a decision by a Broward County circuit judge, said the allegations in the case were sufficient to consider whether Medina acted with “willful and wanton” disregard.

“While further fact development may ultimately convince a trier-of-fact that Medina’s actions, or lack thereof, were not wanton and willful, the allegations of the complaint are sufficient to prevent dismissal of the complaint against Medina,” said the six-page ruling, written by appeals-court Judge Martha Warner and joined by judges Melanie May and Jeffrey Kuntz.

Medina is one of several defendants in a wrongful-death lawsuit filed in Broward County by Meadow Pollack’s parents following the Feb. 14, 2018, attack that killed 17 students and staff at the school.

Cruz, who is a former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student, is awaiting trial on murder charges.

The lawsuit alleges that Medina saw Cruz exit an Uber vehicle while carrying a bag that contained a gun. It adds that Medina recognized Cruz and knew the teen posed a danger, then followed him in a golf cart, according to Wednesday’s ruling.

Additionally, the complaint states that Medina radioed another security guard in what was known as Building 12, where Cruz ultimately carried out the shooting.

Medina went to get school resource officer Scot Peterson, with whom he returned to Building 12.

Cruz left the building soon thereafter and was arrested off campus.

Part of the allegations against Medina involve his decision not to call a “Code Red” over the radio, which could have locked down campus buildings before Cruz could enter.

“Taken together, and knowing the extreme danger Cruz posed, Medina’s actions, as alleged, can constitute conscious and intentional indifference to the consequences of his actions and that he knowingly and purposely failed to call the Code Red,” Wednesday’s ruling said.

In a brief filed at the appeals court, Medina’s attorneys argued that he “acted diligently and reasonably in this extraordinary situation” and that he should be dismissed from the case “because he did not visualize a gun or gunshots, in compliance with his training.”