A Hennepin County judge has ruled the family of an Accent Signage shooting victim can proceed with a lawsuit against the company. Counts listed in the lawsuit against the estate of gunman Andrew Engeldinger will be dismissed.
Judge Denise Reilly will allow the family of Jacob Beneke to seek damages against Accent Signage for two counts of gross negligence that allege the company mishandled the firing of Engeldinger and should have known he was a danger to employees.
According to the lawsuit, Accent Signage reprimanded Engeldinger several times during his employment for excessive tardiness and mistreatment of coworkers. The family says Engeldinger held personal grudges against Beneke, and Beneke commonly referred to Engeldinger as his "nemesis."
Five people were killed in the workplace shooting before Engeldinger took his own life: Beneke, Accent Signage founder Reuven Rahamim, UPS driver Keith Basinski and Accent employees Rami Cooks and Ronald Edberg. A sixth victim, Accent Signage production manager Eric Rivers, died at the hospital.
It was Minnesota's deadliest workplace shooting.
Police said the company had notified Engeldinger about his poor performance and gave him a second chance about a week prior to the shooting.
Accent Signage managers told Engeldinger in writing that his performance would need to improve immediately or he would be terminated. When his lateness and performance issues persisted, they decided to let him go -- but they did not know that he had brought a gun to the meeting with him.
Labor attorney Fred Finch told FOX 9 there are a number of steps employers can take to try to ensure a safe transition, but there is always an unpredictable variable when someone is let go.
"I don't know if there is really anything that could be done to deal with this situation," he said. "Obviously, the field of human personality is an area fraught with surprises."
Damages sought in the Beneke family lawsuit were not specified.