Family of Lars Kepler “Kep” Lane, a victim of the 2021 shooting at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority rail yard, or VTA, filed a lawsuit Thursday on the anniversary of Lane’s death. The family is seeking damages for alleged negligence and wrongful death.
The Santa Clara county sheriff and the security company Universal Protection Service were also named in the lawsuit as defendants, according to a press release from Trial Lawyers for Justice.
“We knew leading up to this unfortunate day that the VTA had intended to hold a memorial to remember the victims,” said Dan Schaar, an attorney for Lane’s family. “We wanted to make sure the victims’ families were remembered as well.”
VTA employee Samuel James Cassidy perpetrated the shooting May 26, 2021 at the Guadalupe Division facility in San Jose.
The gunman shot nine other employees including Lane before taking his own life in what the press release described as the deadliest mass shooting in Bay Area history.
“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 in the press release, the widow of Lars Kepler Lane. “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 the complaint, the Santa Clara VTA was allegedly aware of at least four separate instances prior to the shooting in which Cassidy entered into verbal altercations with his coworkers.
The plaintiffs allege that the Santa Clara VTA enabled the tragedy by not adequately investigating Cassidy for his “repeated pattern of insubordination.”
“Samuel Cassidy had been a problem employee for a while, and there were a number of complaints filed by employees, and a general fear around this man,” Schaar said. “The VTA did not conduct any discipline on this man whatsoever.”
The complaint also points to Universal Protection Service, which was responsible for maintaining security measures at the rail yard, including weapons detector systems.
Schaar noted that while the Santa Clara VTA had entered into a contract with the county sheriff and Universal Protection Service for more than $50 million, based on the footage from the day of the shooting, there was only one security guard on site.
“If we had a magic wand, we would turn back time and bring Kep back for his wife and children,” Schaar said. “Things should have been done differently for security enforcement and maintaining a safe work environment. If that happens, that would be the closest we could get to true justice.”
The Santa Clara VTA had no comment on the litigation.