Many of us go grocery shopping on a regular basis — maybe weekly, twice weekly, or more often. When we go to the store, we expect the same experience — get what we need, pay for the items, load them into our vehicle, and leave. Not many of us expect to be shot and killed by a gunman, but sadly, this was what happened to a woman and her grandson at a Florida Publix store in 2021.
The family is now suing Publix for wrongful death, alleging that the store did not do enough to protect its customers. The grocery store chain claims that the deaths were caused by random violence. However, the family claims that Publix had plenty of evidence that its customers were at risk and should have acted accordingly.
According to the family members and their lawyer, Publix ignored the red flags that placed customer safety. The grocery store chain should have invested in security but failed to do so and now two innocent lives have been lost. The chain, which is based in Lakeland, earned $4.5 billion in 2021. There are many safety measures that Publix could have taken to increase customer safety, but the company clearly put profits ahead of customer safety, according to the family’s lawyer.
The incident happened at the Publix on Royal Palm Beach Boulevard on the morning of June 10, 2021, when a man entered the store. The 55-year-man, an unemployed carpenter, suffered from schizophrenia. The man carried a duffel bag and golf club as he went up and down the aisles. He made a small purchase and left the store.
Just over two hours later, the man returned. A 69-year-old woman and her grandson, who was just days shy of his second birthday, were in the produce section when the man shot the boy, who was in the shopping cart. The woman tried to wrestle the gun away from the man, but he shot her before turning the gun on himself. All three were killed.
It is believed that the man went to the store earlier that day to see what would happen if he came back later that day. There were no security guards to stop him. Nobody asked him why he had a duffel bag. The man had made threats online to kill children, but nobody told the police.
Gun Violence on the Rise
The family’s lawyer claims that Publix ignored the warning signs that the Royal Palm Beach Publix had become a dangerous place. In the three years before the woman and her grandson were killed, there had been an increase in vandalism, bike thefts, and drug sales in the area.
There had been two recent incidents of firearm use in the parking lot, which should have alerted Publix to beef up security. Also, research shows that in the past few years, grocery stores have become targets for mass shootings.
Publix in particular has been the scene of 16 shooting incidents where five people have died.
Other Publix locations have security guards in place, so it is unknown why this particular location failed to have any security measures in place to protect customers. The gunman would have been identified as a threat and the deaths of the woman and her grandson could have been avoided.
Will a Lawsuit Help?
Lawsuits are often filed after mass shootings have taken place. Other retailers, such as Kroger, have also faced legal action after shootings.
While surviving family members have the right to sue a company for these types of premises liability cases, such lawsuits are not easy to win. In this case, for example, it must be proven that Publix ignored warning signs that the store had become a dangerous place. Therefore, the burden is on the plaintiff to show that the specific Publix location was dangerous for customers based on previous criminal activity.
The family is crushed by the deaths. They said that the woman was a wonderful mother and grandmother who played a crucial role in the lives of their children and grandchildren. They are feeling a profound sense of emptiness due to the unexpected deaths and hope that by filing a lawsuit, no other family will have to experience the same anguish. The amount of compensation the family is seeking from Publix is unknown, but the family members have stated that no amount of money will help them fully recover from their losses.
Contact Us Today
Premises liability cases can be tricky, especially when a person has been killed. Is Publix at fault for the death of the woman and her grandson, even though they did not directly cause their deaths?
Liability issues can be complex. One person points the finger at another party. Let the team at Brill & Rinaldi, The Law Firm help with liability and compensation issues. Schedule a free consultation with our office today by filling out the online form or calling (954) 876-4344. We have offices in Weston, Coral Gables, and Daytona Beach.