Thursday, December 9, 2021
Dec. 9, 2021

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Parkland families, district reach $25M settlement


FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The families of 52 people killed, injured or traumatized during the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High have reached a $25 million settlement with the Broward School District, the lawyer for the families confirmed Monday.

While the terms have been reached, the settlement agreement is still being drafted, said attorney David Brill. The largest payments will go to the 17 families whose children or spouses were killed, and they will each receive an equal amount. Brill would not provide further detail on amounts or how the money will be divided.

The settlement could end a 31/2-year battle between the school district and family members of victims, who alleged the school district’s negligence contributed to a troubled former student walking onto the campus on Valentine’s Day 2018 and killing 17 people and injuring 17 others.

“It’s a fair and frankly remarkable result,” Brill said. “It gives the families a measure of justice and accountability.”

Brill said the parties have worked out an arrangement that will enable the families to collect without having to wait for approval from the Florida Legislature, which is the normal process for a government settlement over $300,000. He declined to provide specifics.

The settlement is “painful money” that provides little solace, said Andrew Pollack, who became a fierce critic of the school district after his daughter Meadow was killed.

“It’s hard to talk about money because your daughter was murdered,” he said. “How could you be happy about it?”

The plaintiffs include two current members of the Broward School Board: Lori Alhadeff, whose daughter Alyssa was killed, and Debbi Hixon, who lost her husband Chris, a coach and security monitor at Stoneman Douglas.

In addition to the families of those who died, payouts will go to 16 of 17 who were injured as well as 19 who suffered severe trauma, Brill said.

One victim not included in the settlement is Anthony Borges, a student who was one of the most severely injured. Bullets ripped into his lung, abdomen and legs.

“There was a concern by the rest of the families that Borges was just demanding more than the fair share,” and it was jeopardizing the settlement, Brill said.

Borges’ lawyer Alex Arreaza split off from the larger suit, citing a need for lifelong care that is expected for his client. He said it’s an “emotional argument,” not a legal one to say those whose loved ones died are entitled to more money.