12 lawsuits filed in wake of shooting at Madden NFL 19 video game tournament

Defendants include Electronic Arts, the Landing, Chicago Pizza, and a private security firm.

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As of Tuesday, 12 lawsuits were filed in the 4th Judicial Circuit Court by attorneys representing 11 people who were injured and the survivors of one person who was killed Aug. 26 during the Madden NFL 19 video game tournament at the Jacksonville Landing.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, David Katz, a 24-year-old professional gamer from Baltimore, left the Good Luck Have Fun Game Bar inside Chicago Pizza after losing in a preliminary round. He returned armed with two handguns and began shooting, killing two people, wounding 10 others and then committing suicide.

The defendants in the lawsuits are Electronic Arts Inc., the company that makes the Madden NFL video games and sponsors the tournaments, the owners and managers of the Landing, the owner of Chicago Pizza and the private firm that provides security services at the riverfront mall.

The Good Luck Have Fun Game Bar inside Chicago Pizza at the Jacksonville Landing.
The Good Luck Have Fun Game Bar inside Chicago Pizza at the Jacksonville Landing.

The first lawsuit, alleging negligent security and liability, was filed Aug. 30 by the Morgan & Morgan law firm on behalf of a tournament participant who was injured during the shooting.

An answer and affirmative defenses was filed Oct. 15 by attorneys representing defendants Jacksonville Landing Investments LLC, owner of the Landing; Property Management Support Inc., manager of the mall; and Sleiman Enterprises Inc.

The document asks the court to strike much of the plaintiff’s complaint on the grounds that it is “immaterial, impertinent and scandalous.”

The motion asks the court to remove the portions of the complaint referring to the alleged liability of Electronic Arts because the Sleiman defendants are “without knowledge as to the allegations.”

The motion further states that to the extent any of the allegations pertain to the Sleiman defendants, the allegations are denied.

Sleiman Enterprises admits it was the owner of the buildings at 2 Independent Drive, commonly referred to as “The Jacksonville Landing,” but denies the remaining allegations in the complaint, including that Sleiman Enterprises should have known a possible dangerous condition was created by the game tournament and failed to take proper action to prevent injury to people who were at the tournament and at the Landing.

The answer states that the “plaintiff’s injuries and damages, if any, were the result of an independent, superseding and/or efficient cause or causes of which Defendants had no control, and for which Defendants may not be held legally liable.”

Further, the defendants contend that they were not aware, and should not have been aware, that David Katz was a threat and that they have no liability for “actions of third parties whose actions were not foreseeable, including but not limited to, the criminal acts of third parties.”

The second personal injury lawsuit was filed Sept. 14 on behalf of a plaintiff represented by the Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley law firm in West Palm Beach.

Morgan and Morgan filed nine additional lawsuits on Nov. 10 on behalf of eight clients who claim personal injury and the survivors of one person who was killed during the shooting.

The lawsuits will be heard by Circuit Judges Kevin Blazs, Tyrie Boyer, Karen Cole, Virginia Norton, Eric Roberson, Adrian Soud and Waddell Wallace.