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Lawsuit Follows Mass Shooting at Florida E-Sports Event

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

David Katz, a white, 24-year-old allegedly angry after a loss during a "Madden NFL 19" competition in Jacksonville, Florida on Sunday, left the GLHF Game Bar, retrieved two guns from his car, and shot 13 people at the event, killing two and eventually killing himself. Katz was visiting from Baltimore for the e-sports event, and, according to the Associated Press, had previously been hospitalized for mental illness.

USA Today is also reporting that survivors of the shooting have filed a "negligent security" lawsuit, although the law firm that announced the suit has declined to name its clients or the proposed targets of the litigation.

People Over Profits

"Unfortunately, the country has watched this unfold too often in the past," attorney Matt Morgan said. "This is not the time in America for bare-bones security or, even worse, no security at all." Morgan said his firm represents at least one person who was shot during the assault. "The safety of Americans must always come before profits. It must always be people over profits," Morgan said.

The event was organized by video game giant and Madden creator EA Sports. The competition itself took place at GLHF Game Bar, part of a Chicago Pizza restaurant located in the Jacksonville Landing entertainment complex, an outdoor, waterfront mall owned by the city. "It is foreseeable that shootings could occur at this location," Morgan asserted, without confirming which entities could be defendants in a lawsuit. "eSports are big business. This is the type of event that has to have the highest level of security."

Gun Laws and Liability

According John Wester of Tampa's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms field office, Katz purchased both handguns legally within the last month from a licensed dealer in Baltimore, where Katz lived. Court records show Katz was twice admitted to psychiatric facilities as a juvenile and that he was prescribed anti-psychotic and anti-depressant medications. But Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, told USA Today that Katz's hospitalizations as an adolescent apparently did not fall under state or federal firearm disclosure requirements and background checks.

Negligent security lawsuits are based on the legal duty of landowners and property possessors to provide reasonable security measures to protect visitors from foreseeable crimes. An individual injured by a third party -- in this case people shot by Katz -- can try to hold the owner or tenant of the property where the criminal injury occurred liable for their injuries. Morgan said his firm has continued to get calls from survivors of Sunday's shooting, but declined to name specific clients.

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