SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — On the anniversary of the VTA shooting that left nine city workers dead, the family of one of the victims is suing the transportation authority, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, and Universal Protection Service for failing to protect workers.
The family of Lars Kepler Lane, along with Trial Lawyers for Justice, filed a lawsuit Thursday — seeking damages for negligence, assault, battery, false imprisonment, and wrongful death.
“From VTA to the Sheriff to the security company, too many people failed to do their jobs, and my family has been left to pick up the pieces,” said Vicki Lane, widow of Lars. “We are heartbroken, but we remain hopeful that this lawsuit will force these organizations to make changes that will prevent other families from suffering like we have.”
According to court documents, on May 26, 2021, 63-year-old Kepler Lane was killed in a mass shooting after by fellow VTA employee, Samuel James Cassidy. The shooting took place at the VTA’s Guadalupe Division facility, a rail yard in the Civic Center neighborhood of San Jose.
Lawyers representing the family said the lawsuit comes after a pattern of insubordination from VTA after four separate altercations involving Cassidy with co-workers were ignored by those in power. The lawsuit claims staff feared that if anyone were “to go postal”, it would be Cassidy but VTA failed to investigate, discipline, or terminate Cassidy.
“Negligent, lazy, and fake security is more dangerous than no security at all because it provides a false sense of safety,” said Nick Rowley, a nationally acclaimed trial attorney and co-founder of Trial Lawyers for Justice. “The tragedy that occurred one year ago today is a consequence of lazy, negligent and fake security.”
Additionally, the lawsuit claims the sheriff’s office and Universal Protection Service failed to carry out proper security screening, surveillance, and risk-mitigating measures, and failed to comply with security standards by not using a weapons detector system that they were obligated to maintain.
“One year ago our community was rocked by the largest mass shootings in Bay Area history,” said Dan Schaar, attorney for the family of Lane. “Nine men were taken from their families. These men were husbands, they were fathers, they were brothers and they were sons. The shooter was able to walk right past a Universal Protection Service guard with a duffel bag filled with at least 3 semi-automatic handguns and 32 high-capacity magazines with enough ammunition to kill every single person at the VTA yard that morning. We’re filing this lawsuit to uncover the truth and achieve justice for Kep. Why did this happen, how did this happen, and what systemic changes are necessary to make sure something like this never happens again?”