JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Florida firm plans to file a lawsuit this week alleging that negligent security contributed to Sunday's mass shooting at The Jacksonville Landing.
Morgan & Morgan attorneys Matt Morgan, Tim Moran and James Young declined to name who the defendants would be in the lawsuit, which is expected to be filed in the next few days.
Matt Morgan said his team is representing several victims in the mass shooting, including one who was shot multiple times.
Morgan said Americans have a right to expect they will be safe when they attend events in public places and that businesses and even organizers have a duty under the law to provide protection for patrons.
“Business as usual on the security front will no longer be tolerated by Americans,” Morgan said. “We must demand more from business owners. It's time for business owners and event organizers to step up their game.”
The mass shooting Sunday happened during an Electronic Arts "Madden NFL 19" video game tournament at the Good Luck Have Fun Game Bar inside the Chicago Pizza. A 24-year-old man opened fire, killing two fellow gamers and wounding 10 others before turning the gun on himself, police said.
Morgan said his firm has been contacted by victims after previous mass shootings but this is the first case they've decided to get involved in because they believe the attack was preventable.
The attorneys cited a previous shooting outside the Landing in January 2017 and more recent gunfire that actually sent a bullet through the window of their building across the street from the Landing as evidence that such a crime at the venue should have been foreseen.
They also pointed to how well-known the alleged shooter, David Katz, was in the gaming community, and that threats and volatility during the tournaments are common occurrences.
Morgan said Electronic Arts' decision to cancel its remaining qualifying events for the annual Madden tournament until safety protocols can be reviewed is a step in the right direction.
He said his firm's lawsuit is an effort to help other event organizers and businesses learn from potential mistakes made to prevent future tragedies.
"It is a different time in America," Morgan said. "It is not a time for bare-bones security or no security at all because, as Americans, we trust that business owners at event organizers are going to protect us."
Jordan Williams, who works at the Hooters at the Landing, cared for a man who was shot and brought several people to safety on Sunday. Williams said, in his opinion, the lawsuit is warranted.
“Knowing how big the event is and there is money involved, there was no security. It didn’t make sense at all because, knowing there were so many people there trying to make money, there has to be hostility. And, that’s exactly what happened," he said.
News4Jax contacted Sleiman Enterprises, which manages the Landing, to see if they had any comment, but had not heard back as of early Tuesday evening.
Calling for change
Others have voiced the need for changes to security at these types of competitions.
According to the director of ESports Programs, Cristian Tamas, those changes should have come a long time ago.
"Heartbreaking to hear about the shooting at the Madden event. Unfortunately, this was a matter of when not if. Esport event security, in general, has been extremely poor over the years, we should've stepped it up long ago."
"Sirus the Virus," a professional gamer and well-known figure in the gaming community, echoed the call for change.
"I have been to over 100 events, from 2004-2018. From EA events to MLG events. Security is a MUST!
These top tier players are viewed by many as celebrities."