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Judge Grants FedEx Motion in Indiana Mass Shooting Lawsuit

— October 18, 2022

However, the presiding judge did lambast several of FedEx’s claims as “preposterous.”

A federal judge has granted FedEx’s request to be dismissed as a defendant from the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the families of five people killed in a 2021 mass shooting at the company’s Indianapolis facility.

According to The Indianapolis Star, U.S. District Judge James Sweeney of the Southern District of Indiana granted FedEx’s motion to release all four of its corporate divisions from the wrongful death lawsuit.

FedEx, notes the Star, had earlier contended that the families’ legal action should be treated as a workers’ compensation issue rather than a wrongful death claim.

In his ruling, Judge Sweeney observed that the plaintiff families said their relatives were killed in a FedEx parking lot on April 15, 2021.

Since the victims were all arriving to work or leaving the FedEx facility, Sweeney said that their injuries—or deaths—could be considered workplace events, and would thus full under the jurisdiction of the Indiana Workers’ Compensation Board.

“This case, however, is as pleaded within the exclusive scope of the Indiana Worker’s Compensation Act: the injuries for which Plaintiffs seek redress allegedly “occurred by accident arising out of and in the course of employment”,” Sweeney found. “And, 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.”

Sweeney’s decision, adds the Indianapolis Star, does not strike Securitas Security Services—the third-party contracted to provide security at the FedEx facility–as a defendant.

A FedEx Ground delivery van in Provo, Utah, July 2015; image by An Errant Knight (Own work), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes.
A FedEx Ground delivery van in Provo, Utah, July 2015; image by An Errant Knight (Own work), CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons, no changes.

The Indianapolis Star reports that Sweeney denied another of FedEx’s motions to dismiss.

In that motion, FedEx argued that—because the company is divided into several, separate divisions—it cannot be held broadly accountable for what one of its entities does in a single state.

“FedEx thus argues that FedEx does no business in Indiana; FedEx has never heard of Indiana; only Ground does business in Indiana; what Ground does in Indiana is its own affair,” Sweeney wrote, calling the company’s contention “preposterous” but noting that such a position could be construed valid in corporate law.

“Because corporations are treated as separate legal entities, as a general rule, the jurisdictional contacts of a subsidiary corporation are not imputed to the parent,” Sweeney wrote. “It is therefore quite possible that FedEx cannot ultimately be held to account for its subsidiaries’ actions in Indiana.”

The Star notes that the lawsuit was filed earlier this year on behalf of the families of victims Amarjeet Johal, 66; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Jasvinder Kaur, 50; John Weisert, 74; and Karli Smith, 19.

Collectively, the victims’ families say that FedEx should have implemented stronger security measures and therefore bears at least partial liability for the shootings.


Judge dismisses FedEx from lawsuit filed by victims’ families in deadly mass shooting

Lawsuit against FedEx for 2021 mass shooting dismissed, judge cites jurisdiction over case

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