By: Allan M. Siegel
More than 90 survivors and family members of victims involved in last year’s
Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting recently filed a federal lawsuit against
the gunman’s wife and his former employer, alleging that one of
the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history could have been prevented
had they responded appropriately to warning signs.
Omar Mateen, the gunman who killed 49 people and injured nearly 70 others
before being fatally shot by police on the night of June 12, 2016, had
a verifiable history of violence, threats, and statements regarding terrorism,
the lawsuit alleges. Due to the negligence of the security firm where
the 29-year-old worked, and because he had assistance from his wife, Mateen
was able to executive what the lawsuit refers to as a “predictable” massacre.
The June tragedy was one of the most destructive massacres executed by
a single gunman in America. Following a federal investigation, Mateen’s
widow, Noor Salman, was arrested and charged with aiding and abetting
for her role in assisting Mateen with planning the shooting, conducting
surveillance on the nightclub, and purchasing firearms and ammunition
for his use.
In addition to naming Mateen’s widow, the lawsuit also alleges that
the London-based security firm which employed him since 2007 disregarded
a number of warning signs, including his references to terrorism and involvement
with terrorist organizations, FBI investigations into Mateen prior to
the shooting, and threats made by Mateen. These warnings, the suit claims,
should have prompted a new psychological evaluation or a revocation of
his firearms license.
The Pulse Nightclub lawsuit takes an interesting legal approach to helping
victims pursue justice and compensation following mass shootings. In other
shootings, lawsuits filed on behalf of victims and survivors commonly
name the location where the shooting took place as a defendant, and they
often argue that inadequate security made it possible for a tragedy to
take place. This was the case with the Aurora, Colorado shooting in 2012,
when victims unsuccessfully attempted to sue the movie theatre where the
shooter open fired.
As a law firm that has handled cases involving shootings and
nightclub liability, we intend to follow this lawsuit closely. What transpires during the
course of this case could very well have an impact on future cases involving
mass shootings, victims’ rights, and liability, and, despite the
tragic consequences these events create, may provide hope for victims
and survivors who simply want justice and compensation for their incalculable losses.