Families of Indianapolis FedEx shooting victims file lawsuit in federal court

Family members of the victims who were killed during a mass shooting at the Indianapolis FedEx Ground facility last year on the city’s southwest side have filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking justice for their loved ones.

On April 15, 2021, 19-year-old Brandon Scott Hole opened fire  and killed eight FedEx Ground employees before taking his own life.

The suit, filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, names FedEx Corporation, FedEx Ground Packages System Inc., Federal Express Corporation, Fedex Corporate Services, Inc., and Securitas Security Services, USA as defendants.

Indianapolis attorney Daniel Chamberlain of Cohen & Malad LLC and Georgia attorney Melvin Hewitt of Isenberg & Hewitt, P.C. are representing the families.

“It is our pleasure to represent these folks in this devastatingly horrible situation that was preventable,” Chamberlain said during a Monday press conference.  “Not only preventable, but these types of situations cannot continue in the U.S. — let alone in the state of Indiana. This is one of the worst mass shootings and frankly unnecessary.”

The families allege in the complaint that the defendants failed to exercise ordinary care in the carrying out of their respective duties on and prior to the day of the shooting. They also claim that Securitas, one of the world’s largest private security providers, provided unarmed security for the facility.

The complaint alleges the defendants’ singular and combined negligence and gross negligence was the direct and proximate cause and result of the severe injuries and ultimate death of the eight victims and five workers injured in the shooting.

Plaintiffs in the suit are seeking general and special damages, attorneys fees and costs, as well as a jury trial.

Chamberlain and Hewitt say that law enforcement has not complied with their requests for complete records in the incident.

FedEx Ground had employed Hole in 2020, where he worked at the Indianapolis facility from August to October. He was later fired for not returning to work, the company previously said in a statement.

Hole had agreed to surrender a .410-gauge shotgun and did not request its return after FBI agents investigated him in March 2020 after his mother called police to say that her son might commit “suicide by cop.” Due to the information collected at the scene, the Indianapolis Metro Police Department placed Hole under an immediate detention and transported him to a local hospital for evaluation.

However, Hole never appeared before a judge in a “red flag” hearing.

Individuals killed in the shooting were Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jasvinder Kaur, 50; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karli Smith, 19; and John Steve Weisert, 74.

Family members of Johal and Smith sat with their attorneys Monday to share their thoughts on why they filed the suit and what they hope will happen.

“Losing her is one of the biggest devastations in our life,” said Gurinder Johal of his late mother, Amarjeet. “I’m still trying to process the whole situation. The only thing I keep processing is that this whole situation was preventable.”

Matt Alexander said losing his daughter Karli has been a traumatic experience for his family and younger children.

“It is an ongoing process for me to try to comprehend because no one should ever have to bury their child,” Alexander said. “But if something can be done to even slightly increase the procedures and policies not just at FedEx but everywhere else, to let people know that this can’t happen again and to prevent any other family or person from going through this senseless tragedy, that would be a plus in everybody’s book.”

Johal noted that many members of the Sikh community who worked at the facility have not returned due to fear and safety concerns. However he said that he does not believe that the shooting was a hate crime.

Hewitt previously represented victims of a mass shooting at another FedEx Ground facility in 2014 in Kennesaw, Georgia. He says that the company has ignored safety concerns.

“FedEx can’t say, ‘Oh gee, we didn’t know these things were going to happen,’” Hewitt said. “If we didn’t believe sincerely in this case and the flaws in what happened that led to this, what we consider to be a clearly preventable tragedy,  we wouldn’t be here.”

A representative of FedEx Corp. told the Indianapolis Business Journal Monday that the firm was aware of the lawsuit and reviewing its allegations.

“We continue to mourn the loss of our team members in the senseless tragedy that occurred nearly one year ago,” the representative said in an emailed response. “FedEx Ground’s top priority is the safety of our team, and we have provided and continue to offer support in multiple ways to those affected, including employee assistance programs that are available 24/7, as well as the establishment of the Indianapolis 4/15 Survivors Fund in coordination with the National Compassion Fund.”

The IBJ contributed to this report.

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