Judge dismisses FedEx from Indianapolis shooting lawsuit

A bouqet of flowers rests outside the FedEx Ground facility following the April 15, 2021, shooting. (IL file photo)

A federal judge has dismissed FedEx from a lawsuit filed by relatives of five of the eight people who were fatally shot last year at an Indianapolis warehouse by a former employee of the shipping giant.

U.S. District Judge James Sweeney on Monday granted a FedEx Corp. motion to dismiss it and three of its divisions from the wrongful death lawsuit. He found that the federal court does not have jurisdiction over the case, which seeks unspecified damages, because it falls under Indiana’s Worker’s Compensation Act.

Sweeney wrote in his order that “because the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Board has exclusive jurisdiction over the Act, this Court may not grant any relief on Plaintiffs’ claims against FedEx.”

His order does not dismiss from the complaint another defendant, Securitas Security Services, which provides security at the FedEx warehouse on Indianapolis’ southwest side.

The lawsuit was filed in April in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis. The plaintiffs are relatives of shooting victims Amarjeet Johal, 66; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Jasvinder Kaur, 50; John Weisert, 74; and Karli Smith, 19.

Matthew R. Alexander, 32, Samaria Blackwell, 19, and Jaswinder Singh, 68, were also killed in the attack.

The suit argues that gunman Brandon Scott Hole, 19, had “exhibited emotional and mental instability on multiple instances” before the April 15, 2021, shooting.

Hole, a former FedEx employee, fatally shot himself after he killed eight FedEx employees, including four members of Indianapolis’ Sikh community. Five other people were wounded in the attack.

Melvin L. Hewitt, one of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, said Tuesday in a statement that “we were obviously extremely disappointed with the judge’s decision to dismiss FedEx and its parent and subsidiaries from the wrongful death lawsuit.”

“Indiana law and the law of a number of states oftentimes shield large employers from liability through Worker’s Compensation. However, in this case, Indiana not only shields the employer but also shields the parent of the employer and goes so far as to provide immunity to separate companies the employer owns,” Hewitt added.

When asked Tuesday whether the plaintiffs would seek redress through Indiana’s Worker’s Compensation Board, Hewitt replied that “we’ll pursue any avenue that’s available to us on behalf of the plaintiffs.”

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