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Judge tosses lawsuit, for now, against family that took in future Parkland shooter

Rafael Olmeda, Sun Sentinel on

Published in Political News

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The Parkland couple who took Nikolas Cruz into their home after the death of his mother in late 2017 will not have to defend themselves against a civil lawsuit related to the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a Broward County judge ruled Thursday.

The decision by Broward Circuit Judge Patti Englander Henning was welcomed by James and Kimberly Snead, said their lawyer, Jim Lewis, but the Sneads are not declaring victory just yet.

Henning agreed with a defense argument that there was nothing about the Sneads' actions that could justify a lawsuit. But she's giving the plaintiff, Andrew Pollack, 20 days to revise his lawsuit to make a stronger argument to keep the Sneads as co-defendants. Pollack, whose daughter, Meadow, was killed in the shooting, is also suing Cruz, former Stoneman Douglas School Resource Officer Scot Peterson, and the estate of Lynda Cruz, Nikolas Cruz's mother.

Lynda Cruz died in November 2017, and the Sneads said they felt compassion for the young man, who was friends with their son.

Pollack's lawsuit accused the Sneads of allowing Cruz to bring his weapons onto their property. The Sneads said they secured the weapons in a locked gun safe, according to the lawsuit. Still, Cruz was able to get to the guns.

Part of the defense argument was that the Sneads had no legal duty to secure Cruz's weapons. Cruz was 19 at the time, an adult under the law.

"For now, the Sneads are not part of the lawsuit," said Lewis. "The plaintiffs still have the opportunity to amend their complaint, we think it's a strong indication that ultimately this is going to go our way."

 

The Sneads, who were in court, declined to comment.

Pollack said he is committed to restoring the Sneads as defendants. "This whole thing is just about accountability," he said. "They knew Cruz was a sick kid. They didn't secure his weapons. They don't want to accept any responsibility for what happened."

Pollack said he does not expect to recover any financial damages from the Sneads even if he is successful in his lawsuit.

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