The shooting at the Pulse Nightclub last June still casts a dark cloud over Orlando and the LGBT community. While Orlando residents and tourists alike visit the site of the shooting to pay their respects to the 49 victims, the victims’ families are fighting for justice and compensation in court.
Unfortunately, these families appear to have hit a roadblock, and their case may be thrown out of court. What happened?
To understand, you first have to know who the families were trying to sue and why.
Who Is the Lawsuit Against?
The person behind the Pulse Nightclub shooting was Omar Mateen. Before the shooting, Mateen was working as a security guard for G4S Secure Solutions. His job allowed him to have a firearm. Mateen had been an employee at the company for nearly nine years.
Although he passed multiple background checks, Mateen was investigated by the FBI in 2013. At the time, Mateen told numerous coworkers that he was connected to a mass shooter and other terrorists. The FBI dropped the investigation after Mateen said that he had made the story up in order to end harassment from his coworkers.
Based on this, the victims and their families are filing a lawsuit against G4S, claiming that the company knew Mateen was unstable and still allowed him to have a firearm license.
In addition to G4S, the families are also filing a suit against Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman. She allegedly knew about Mateen’s plan to carry out the shooting and even accompanied him to potential shooting locations. Salman was arrested in January 2017 for federal charges, including obstruction of justice and aiding and abetting Mateen. She is currently awaiting trial.
Why Is the Lawsuit Being Thrown Out Now?
There are a couple of different reasons.
First, the District Judge involved in the case has raised questions as to whether or not a federal court was the right place to handle the claim. A federal case typically involves citizens and businesses that reside in different states. G4S is a British company but conducts most of its business out of Florida.
In addition to the questions of holding the case in a district court, there are questions about the validity of the claim itself. In both cases, victims’ families are claiming that G4S and Salman could have prevented the Pulse Shooting from happening.
While Salman’s role in the shooting is more obvious, there are questions about what G4S should have done differently. Sure, the company could have restricted Mateen’s gun use, but in negligence cases the defendant had to fail to fulfill a duty to the plaintiffs. What did G4S fail to do? How did their negligence cause the shooting? How did their negligence specifically cause the financial damages the plaintiffs are asking for?
How to Prevent This Situation When Filing a Personal Injury Suit
This is not the first attempt by families of Pulse victims to file a lawsuit for compensation. Earlier, families of three victims sued Facebook, Twitter, and Google, claiming that they provided Mateen with material on ISIS and radical terrorism.
Bringing a lawsuit, especially against large companies like G4S or Facebook, can be very risky. If your case is thrown out, you will have expended time, money, and effort without any reward or justice.
Suing Facebook and Twitter was a long shot. It’s a pretty big stretch to essentially put the blame of the Pulse Shooting on three of the largest distributors of information in the world. The arguments against G4S and Mateen’s wife have more merit, but the questions raised there are also valid.
What does this mean for you? As a potential plaintiff, you need to think critically before filing a lawsuit. Make sure you review the case with a lawyer and come up with answers to questions like the ones above that a judge may ask.
There may be a long list questions that need to be answered, and many layers to be looked at for different types of personal injury cases. If a judge can’t see an initial connection between the defendants, the accident or injury, and the financial damages that the plaintiffs are asking for, then the case will likely be thrown out before it is properly heard.
These details, as well as questions about the right court for filing the claim, are not always cut-and-dry answers. As you prepare to file a claim, you should consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. A lawyer with years of experience working in Florida or personal injury law can help you avoid pitfalls that could have your case thrown out.
About the Author:
John K. Lawlor, a South Florida personal injury attorney who focuses his practice on complex personal injury, wrongful death, and professional malpractice, founded the law firm of Lawlor, White & Murphey in 1996. Since 1995, Mr. Lawlor’s trial advocacy and litigation skills, as well as his wide-ranging legal expertise, have provided plaintiffs and their families with a distinct advantage when seeking financial compensation and justice for injuries caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Lawlor is an EAGLE member of the Florida Bar Association and an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Broward County Justice Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several professional associations.