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Family sues Sheriff's Office, district over death of teen

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 4, 2002

NEW PORT RICHEY -- The family of slain Ridgewood High School student Teddy Niziol filed a wrongful death lawsuit on Thursday in state court against the Pasco County School District and Sheriff's Office.

Niziol's family previously filed a similar lawsuit in federal court under the Gun-Free Schools Act. A federal magistrate judge threw out the lawsuit in August, saying the case belonged in state court.

The lawsuit alleges that school and sheriff's officials failed to protect Niziol, a junior who was killed Jan. 19, 2000, as he drove away from the New Port Richey school. He was accidentally shot by his best friend, Steven Moschella, then 16, who was holding a stolen handgun that Niziol, 16, had brought to campus that day.

The lawsuit alleges that school administrators and a sheriff's deputy failed to act on a note that said a student identified only as "Teddy" had a gun on campus. Principal Art O'Donnell and school resource officer Cpl. Joe Little are named individually as defendants in the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs seek damages of at least $15,000.

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