On November 7, 2019, the Starnes team of Jay Ezelle, Breanna Young, and Michael Lasserre obtained a complete dismissal of a wrongful death action involving a highly-publicized workplace shooting at an academic medical center. The shooting occurred when an employee who was facing disciplinary measures pulled a firearm and killed his supervisor, shot another person, and then killed himself. The estate of the murdered employee filed the lawsuit alleging that the two administrative-level university officials were negligent in failing to prevent the shooter from bringing a firearm into the hospital.
In seeking dismissal of all claims against the university employees, the Starnes team made two arguments: First, that the estate could not establish a negligence claim because the employees did not have any independent knowledge of the circumstances leading up to the shooting and, thus, had no legal duty to protect the victims. Second, the employees, based on their position, job duties, and employer, were completely protected from such claims based on sovereign, state-agency, and co-employee immunity. The court agreed with each of these arguments and concluded that the claims against the University employees were due to be dismissed at the outset of the case.
Starnes is uniquely qualified to defend universities, corporations, and employees who find themselves involved in a lawsuit stemming from campus or workplace violence. Starnes has defended universities and companies involved in high-profile matters for decades, including numerous mass shootings. In addition, Starnes works with its clients to develop safeguards that can help prevent such violence.