Parkland Students Asked to Turn Over Psychiatric Records to Prove Anguish
Here is something you need to know about the legal process. Even in states that have so-called “rape shield” laws that prevent defense attorneys from asking certain questions on the stand, these laws do not apply to civil cases. Why not? Well, in a civil lawsuit, you are claiming that someone else’s malice or negligence caused you a specific amount of harm. In order to monetize the amount of harm, both parties must have access to personal information.
Now, the Parkland students who survived the massacre brought forth by Nikolas Cruz are being asked to turn over psychological records to prove just how much psychological harm the massacre caused the students.
Plaintiffs Respond to the Demand
The Parkland parents and students were not pleased to hear that the County was demanding their psychiatric records. They called the move “harassing, burdensome” and an invasion of the student’s privacy. At least a dozen families have objected to the information request.
Additionally, it’s fairly rare for a civil defendant to ask for psychiatric records when it comes to proving distress. This evidence is generally provided by testimony or victim statements, including family members.
The County acknowledged the sensitive nature of the request but noted that several of the claims are based on emotional distress suffered as a result of the incident. They say they need those records in order to satisfy those claims.
The County also requested copies of the slain victims’ death certificates, cellphone numbers, and the names and addresses of any health care providers where they received services in the past five years.
Sovereign Immunity and Lawsuits Against Schools
Since schools are considered an extension of the government, lawsuits against schools are capped at $300,000 per incident. That means that of the 17 who were killed and the many more injured, the parents would be entitled to split a $300,000 settlement.
There is only one way around this. An attorney for the victims can win the case and the jury can award a settlement into the millions of dollars, but the state legislature would have to agree to pay the sum or some fraction of it by legislative order.
Why are They Requesting This Information?
Superficially, one might expect that they really do need the information they are requesting, but it is often a bullying tactic to get people to drop out of lawsuits. By requesting sensitive information, the defense makes it less likely that the plaintiffs will cooperate with their requests, and then they can argue this point in court. Further, the request for information and the subsequent hearings on whether that is necessary will delay the resolution which also works to the benefit of the defense.
Talk to a Miami Personal Injury Lawyer
The Miami personal injury attorneys at the office of Alan Goldfarb, P.A. represents the interests of plaintiffs in personal injury lawsuits against negligent parties. Call today to schedule an appointment and then we can meet to discuss your case and its possible resolution.