A victim of the Jacksonville shooting last week that left three dead and 11 wounded has filed a negligent-security lawsuit that targets both EA, the makers of Madden, the game featured in the video game tournament where the shooting took place, and the locale that hosted the qualifier.
According to Kotaku, Jacob Mitich was shot twice during the event, and now he’s seeking damages on the basis that EA and the venue “failed to provide a safe and secure environment.” After the shooting, Jacksonville fire marshals shut down the game bar and the pizzeria where it is located, citing a failure to submit building plans that included the game bar as well as three fire code violations. These include blocked exits, using strip plugs as permanent wiring, and using extension cords as a substitute for permanent wiring. Fire Marshal Kevin Jones’ code violation report says that the tragedy “would not have occurred” if the pizzeria had followed the rules because the game room area would not exist.
Mitich is not the only one planning a lawsuit: as USA Today reports, personal injury law firm Morgan & Morgan has multiple clients who say they’ve suffered physical or emotional trauma and are preparing to file lawsuits in retaliation.
“[Mitich] trusted the event host and organizers, and believed that he was walking into a safe space,” Morgan attorney James Young told Kotaku. “That trust was shattered when shots rang out in an over-crowded, since-shut-down, non-permitted space. Combined with an alleged abject failure to provide adequate security, the result was tragic. We are bringing this lawsuit to hold those responsible accountable, and to ensure that gamers like Jake are able to get together to pursue their passion without having to fear for their lives.”
Previously, victims of a mass shooting have tried to sue the venue where the tragedy occurred, but in the case of the 2012 Aurora movie theater massacre, the plaintiffs ended up owing the defendants $700,000 instead. The Jacksonville shooting victims may have a better chance, however, given the fire marshal-cited safety violations.
EA did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but earlier this week, the company pledged to donate a million dollars to the victims of the shooting. EA also canceled the rest of the Madden tournaments that were scheduled for 2018, noting that it was going to spend some time establishing better security protocols with its tournament partners.