A judge says a lawsuit brought by victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre against the gunman’s employer and wife may be tossed out of federal court.
U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra last week issued an order raising questions about whether federal court was the proper jurisdiction for the lawsuit. The judge gave the plaintiffs 10 days to file a revised lawsuit or he said he would dismiss the complaint.
Attorneys for the Pulse victims didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment on Sunday.
Almost five dozen victims and families of the deceased filed the lawsuit last week in federal court in South Florida against security firm G4S and the wife of Omar Mateen, claiming they could have stopped the gunman before the attack last June but didn’t.
Forty-nine people died in the worst mass shooting in recent U.S. history, and dozens more were injured.
The lawsuit was seeking an undisclosed amount of money.
The complaint said that G4S bosses knew Mateen was mentally unstable yet continued to employee him as a security guard and didn’t seek to have his firearms license revoked, even after he was investigated by the FBI in 2013 for telling co-workers he had connections to terrorists and a mass shooter. He later told his bosses he had made that up to get his co-workers to stop teasing him about being Muslim and the FBI determined he was not a threat.
A spokeswoman for G4S last week said the lawsuit was without merit and that the company would vigorously defend itself. A company spokeswoman on Sunday didn’t immediately respond to an email inquiry.
The lawsuit also said that Mateen’s wife, Noor Salman, knew her husband was going to carry out the killings ahead of time yet did nothing. Salman currently is in jail awaiting trial in a separate criminal case. She has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of aiding and abetting her husband, and obstruction of justice.
The federal judge said cases should be brought to federal court because of “diversity jurisdiction” only if the lawsuits are between residents of different states, U.S. residents and residents of a foreign nation or residents of different states in which other parties may be subjects of foreign countries.
Although G4S is a British company, its principal place of business is in Florida, the judge said. He added that Salman was a Florida resident, as were many of the Pulse victims and their families, raising question about whether federal court is the proper venue.