JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A second survivor is suing in the wake of last month's deadly mass shooting that unfolded during an eSports tournament held inside a restaurant at The Jacksonville Landing.
The latest negligence lawsuit was filed Sept. 5 by the Morgan & Morgan law firm on behalf of Anthony Montagnino, a competitive gamer who was shot in the lower back and buttocks in the Aug. 26 incident. It seeks a jury trial and more than $15,000 in damages.
Named in the 50-page negligence complaint are game developer and tournament sponsor Electronic Arts in addition to a series of businesses associated with the event venue, including Chicago Pizza & Sports Grille, GLHF Game Bar, Jacksonville Landing Investments, and Sleiman Enterprises.
The complaint, which mirrors a suit filed last month by Jacob Mitich, argues none of the defendants took the steps needed to provide a safe environment for those participating in the Aug. 26 event. It goes on to say that the Sheriff's Office wasn't told, otherwise armed police would have been present.
Montagnino, who goes by V-Tech, was glued to a game of "Madden NFL 19" when he heard what sounded like balloons popping. Then someone yelled, "Gun!" Before Montagnino could react, he felt two bullets enter his body. Frightened, he bounded over a table and hid until the shooting stopped.
Though he was shot twice, Montagnino survived. Two men, 22-year-old Elijah Clayton and 27-year-old Taylor Roberston, were killed in the shooting rampage and nine others were wounded before the shooter, 24-year-old David Katz of Maryland, took his own life.
"Throughout the entire period of the above-described shooting, Plaintiff had a genuine belief that he was going to die, a victim of a mass shooting," the complaint states in part. "The above-described shooting event lasted less than a minute, but seemed an eternity to Plaintiff."
The lawsuit argues that Electronic Arts should have known Katz, described as a socially awkward man with a history of mental health issues, was a security risk and flagged him. It further states that the game developer took no action in response to a previous report of "threatening" behavior by Katz.
According to the complaint, it was apparent to everyone involved -- including two EA employees staffing the event -- that the venue was too cramped and disorganized to handle the gaming tournament: "Players had to step over each other just to get to the restroom."
As part of the lawsuit, Montagnino's attorneys are seeking a court order forcing EA to review its safety and security policies for eSports events. For instance, it calls for the game developer to "fully vet and inspect the venues" that host tournaments to make sure they comply with building and fire codes.
In response to the shooting, EA canceled its three remaining qualifier events for the "Madden NFL 19" tournament. CEO Andrew Wilson said the decision was made so that the company can thoroughly review its safety protocols for gamers and spectators.
"We've all been deeply affected by what took place in Jacksonville," Wilson said in part. "This is the first time we've had to confront something like this as an organization, and I believe the first time our gaming community has dealt with a tragedy of this nature."
Copyright 2018 by WJXT News4Jax - All rights reserved.