Navy Yard Shooting Gives Rise to Potential Civil Claims

STSW is currently investigating potential criminal and civil claims arising out of the massacre of 13 Navy Yard employees on behalf of several of the victims’ families.

Aaron Alexis was employed by The Experts, a subcontractor of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services (HP), and was granted access to secure Navy Yard facilities in that capacity. Based on the widespread media reports of Alexis’ increasingly bizarre behavior, The Experts was potentially on notice of a dangerous mental illness. Alexis was living in a hotel with fellow employees who apparently witnessed his declining mental state, as did members of the hotel staff. Alexis was also involved in several encounters with police which either were or could have been discovered by The Experts. The Experts may be liable for, among other things, wrongful death, negligent hiring, negligent supervision and negligent retention. Depending on the precise relationship between The Experts and HP, HP faces potential liability.

Others may also be held accountable for the deaths and injuries suffered by the victims and their families. The federal government may have been negligent in permitting Alexis to bring a disassembled weapon onto its premises and the contractor who performed his employment background check could also be held accountable for failing to discover signs of obvious mental illness.

The victims of the Navy Yard shooting also have a strong interest in the various investigations concerning the Navy Yard shooting. Among others, congress, the Navy, and the Mayor of DC are conducting investigations. Criminal investigations are also ongoing. The Navy Yard victims have the legal right to participate in these investigations and any criminal and/or other proceedings that follow. Crime victim rights is a recent concept and few lawyers are equipped to assert those rights in any meaningful manner.

STSW has a track record of representing victims of dangerously mentally ill patients in claims against third parties with a duty to protect the victim. STSW is currently pursuing litigation against Morgan State University on behalf of a victim of the Maryland “cannibal.” More about that case is available here .

In addition, STSW is pursuing a case against a retail establishment which failed to protect a 21-year-old teacher from a mentally ill patron who slit the young woman’s throat while she was standing in line to pay for chips and a soda. These cases underline the importance that institutions and businesses take appropriate action to protect their employees, patrons and guests from obviously mentally ill individuals. In this case and many others like it, a few simple actions could have prevented the tragic deaths of 13 people and the lifetime of suffering that will be endured by their friends and families.

Unlike other law firms which focus only on the civil recovery, STSW’s Victim Rights Practice Group fights to protect the rights and interests of victims and their families in the criminal investigation and prosecution stage while vigorously pursuing civil claims against criminal offenders and responsible third parties. STSW partners with groups such as the National Center for Victims of Crime, The Network for Victim Recovery DC, Parents of Murdered Children and others to address the full array of crime victims’ legal goals in a manner that helps them heal and recover. This compassionate, creative and holistic approach is particularly appropriate in cases such as the Navy Yard tragedy, where the perpetrator died as a result of his horrific actions.


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