Lawsuit in Accent Signage Shooting Case Can Proceed

Updated: 07/03/2013 7:51 AM By: Mark Albert

Photo: MGN Online
Photo: MGN Online

A Hennepin County judge has decided to allow a lawsuit against Accent Signage to proceed, dismissing some counts from the original complaint but allowing lawyers for one of the victims of the mass workplace shooting to argue the Minneapolis-based company was grossly negligent in not taking steps to try to prevent the carnage.

Counts alleging claims against deceased shooter Andrew Engeldinger's estate for assault and battery (counts 2 & 5), grossly negligent infliction of emotional distress (count 4), and intentional infliction of emotional distress (count 6) were dismissed.

Judge Denise Reilly, however, refused to dismiss the remaining counts (1 & 3), turning away one of the company’s arguments that the lawsuit is preempted by Minnesota’s Workers Compensation Act, which is already paying the family of Jacob Beneke some benefits.

The lawyer for Beneke's family called Tuesday's decision a "victory."

"It's the first step in a long process for this family to get their day in court," attorney Phil Villaume told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS in an interview Tuesday afternoon.

"They're fighting for a cause that they believe in," he said.

Villaume believes Tuesday's order, if upheld in the appellate courts, "puts business on notice that they can be sued in the event that employees are harmed while at the workplace."

"It could help protect employees across the state if we prevail in the long run," said Villaume.

A spokesperson for Accent Signage emailed 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the following statement: "Our lawyers have not yet had a chance to fully review the judge's ruling."

Click here to read the order.

Click here to read the original lawsuit.

Click here to read Accent Signage's motion to dismiss.