FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – The attorney for Marjory Stoneman Douglas victim Anthony Borges and his family filed a civil lawsuit against a host of people and entities in court Tuesday.
It is believed to be the first lawsuit filed over the shooting at the school in February.
“Anthony Borges and his family want to reach the truth and this is the only way this is going to happen,” said attorney Alex Arreaza.
Arreaza says confessed killer Nikolas Cruz is one of the defendants and so Is Cruz’s late mother, Lynda, who records show called the Broward Sheriff’s Office many times over the years to report behavioral problems with her son and likely knew of his love of guns and penchant for violence.
“When she didn’t address this problem with her kid, eventually 17 people paid with their lives,” Arreaza said.
The lawsuit also names several mental health facilities that treated Cruz, including Henderson Behavioral Health. State records from the Department of Children & Families show that that facility assessed Cruz in the years preceding the shooting after several incidents yet declined to hospitalize him.
“They had all the warning signs over there,” Arreaza said. “They even at one point cleared him.”
The Borges’ are also suing James and Kimberly Snead, the couple who took Cruz in after his mother died.
Arreaza says when Cruz showed up with guns — including an AR-15 that he supposedly kept in a gun safe — that should have been a red flag for the couple.
“He’s not bringing a stray dog into the house that he wants to keep,” Arreaza said. “He’s bringing an AR-15. This is a serious rifle. You have the responsibility to ask questions.”
Jim Lewis is the attorney for the Snead’s. He said the couple told Cruz to lock up his gun and the family thought they had the only key. Lewis says the Snead’s did nothing wrong.
“We feel so sorry what happened at Stoneman Douglas,” Lewis told CBS 4. “But the Snead’s are not responsible — not morally, ethically or legally.”
Lewis worries about the chilling effect a lawsuit like this might have.
“What is this gonna say to anybody else out there who might think about taking in a troubled youth? Who might try to help them? They’re not gonna do it if they think they’re going to be held responsible for what they do,” Lewis said.
But Arreaza feels differently and says the Borges family is committed to getting answers from anyone who might bear responsibility.
“The main purpose for doing this is to get to the truth so this never happens again,” Arreaza said.
The lawsuit asks for damages of more than $15-thousand dollars. The Borges family will likely ask for much more. They have a mountain of medical bills and a lengthy recovery for Anthony.
The family’s attorney says they will also sue the Broward Sheriff’s Office, the Broward School District and the FBI. However, when someone sues a governmental agency they have to give the agency 6 months notice.