The victims and families of the Parkland school massacre could receive less than $9,000 on average after the Florida Supreme Court capped the school district's liability.
Justices ruled in favour of Broward County Public Schools that argued the 2018 shooting was a single incident, rather than a separate occurrence for each time the trigger was pulled, according to the Associated Press.
With state law capping civil liability of government agencies at $300,000 per incident, families of the 17 people killed and 17 wounded would only have access to $9,090 if that total was split evenly between the 33 legal complaints.
The families had argued that the school district should be liable for $200,000 for each plaintiff, according to the Miami Herald. Any jury award above the $300,000 capped by state law for a single incident would have to be approved by Florida's legislature and the governor.
The court said mass shootings should be seen as a single “incident or occurrence”, based on a 2010 ruling in a Florida Department of Children and Families case in which a man shot and killed his wife and her four children.
“Today’s decision in no way devalues the lives of those injured or killed as a result of mass shootings, or the harm suffered as a result of such tragedies,” the court wrote on Thursday.
“It is a decision that is rendered within the narrow confines of Florida law relating to the Legislature’s limited waiver of sovereign immunity.”
Nikolas Cruz, who is awaiting trial on first-degree murder charges, faces a possible death sentence for the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.