Daily Business Review, “2020 Florida Trailblazers”

Posted on September 10, 2020
Photo of Kristina M. Infante Associate
Kristina M. Infante

PIONEER SPIRIT  At its heart, Kristina Infante’s case against the U.S. government is a “simple negligence lawsuit.” But it involves a negligent act with profound consequences. Infante represents the parents of 14-year old Jaime Guttenberg, one of 17 people shot to death in 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Infante’s suit seeks to take the unusual step of holding the government accountable for failures by an FBI call center to notify agents in South Florida of tips about the shooter before the massacre. Without those failures, “Jaime Guttenberg would still be alive, and so would the 16 others who died in this tragedy.”

TRAILS BLAZED Infante joined Podhurst Orseck about a month after the Parkland shooting and is also involved in litigation against the school board and the manufacturer of the semiautomatic rifle used by the shooter.  She is fighting to overcome immunity claims by the government, as well as the FBI’s reluctance to turn over discovery material on how its protocols were violated.  Transcripts from the call center are “very difficult to read, because the FBI had so much information just weeks before the shooting.”

FUTURE EXPLORATIONS Infante acknowledges that “holding law enforcement responsible” has historically been a challenge for plaintiffs. But most cases involve investigative failures, not administrative errors “What’s tragic is the FBI agent didn’t even get an opportunity to carry out an investigation.” Infante hopes for a ruling similar to a judge’s decision that the FBI was negligent in preventing a firearms purchase by a man who killed nine people in 2015 in a Charleston, South Carolina church. “I do see a trend in the direction of courts recognizing that the government — and law enforcement in particular — should be held accountable for the simple acts of negligence of their own employees.”