Jacksonville Shooting Victim Sues EA And Venue

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Jacob Mitich, a survivor of the deadly shooting at a Madden tournament last weekend that took two lives, is suing both the venue and Madden publisher Electronic Arts for negligence, according to a complaint filed yesterday.

Mitich, who was shot twice, is seeking damages from eight defendants including EA, the Jacksonville Landing shopping centre, and pizza parlour Chicago Pizza, where the tournament took place. The suit alleges that the venue was unsafe and that EA “failed to provide a safe and secure environment” for the participants, among other complaints.

“Like many of his friends, Jacob Mitich travelled to Jacksonville last weekend to do what he loved,” said James Young, an attorney with the personal injury law firm Morgan & Morgan, in a statement accompanying the lawsuit.

“He trusted the event host and organisers, and believed that he was walking into a safe space. That trust was shattered when shots rang out in an over-crowded, since-shut-down, non-permitted space. Combined with an alleged abject failure to provide adequate security, the result was tragic.

“We are bringing this lawsuit to hold those responsible accountable, and to ensure that gamers like Jake are able to get together to pursue their passion without having to fear for their lives.”

When reached by Kotaku, EA responded with a brief statement: “At this time, we are fully focused on supporting the victims and all those affected by this tragic event.”

This is one of a number of developments that have unfolded over the past week, as the gaming world tries to piece together what happened during Sunday’s deadly massacre.

Early this week, the Daily News reported on Ronald Casey, a Madden player who shielded other players during the attack. On Thursday, EA said it would donate $US1 million ($1.4 million) to victims of the shooting, not long after cancelling the Madden qualifier tournaments that had been scheduled for the coming weeks.

In the lawsuit, Mitich’s attorneys describe Jacksonville Landing as “a hub of dangerous, violent and too often, deadly activity”, citing stabbing and shooting incidents that had happened at the shopping centre over the past few years.

The suit also details Mitich’s harrowing experience during the shooting on Sunday, describing how, while fleeing the scene, he felt pain in his back and leg. “The last thing Plaintiff recalls from this ordeal was the genuine belief that he was going to die,” the lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit does not specify an amount that Mitich is seeking in damages.


Comments

    In this age of endless mass shootings, lack of policy reform and almost certain litigations, I feel that soon all public events in the US will be planned like maximum security prisons...

      Hopefully it becomes expensive enough that they finally relent and address the policy reform required.

      Money is the only thing these controlling entities value, so I'm all for people making it as hard to ignore as possible.

        More money in selling as many guns as possible to as many people they can

        It's not policy that is a problem, it's the mindset of huge swathes of the population. It's really, really hard to change the constitution (by design) and politician's views on guns are one of the things that a lot of people vote on.

    Really, might be different if he was punched or had the shit kicked out if him and the venue had no security or bouncers, but how the hell to you prepare for a gun wielding psychopath.

    Do you have other people there visually armed with assault weapons making it feel "safer" or just uncomfortable.

      I work for an American company (Aus office) and we have massive "active shooter" policy posters in all the kitchens. Pretty sad sign of the times hey.

      a bag check for starters, it's already done at nearly every major event I go to in Australia and there would have been a chance to detect the firearm before the shooter was in a mental state to use it on anyone.

        While I agree it should be a gun free zone it does little to stop the mentally ill shooting up schools, even with reform and stronger background checks people will still get there hands on guns.

        One case was were a young guy stole a gun from a relative and shot up a school, stronger laws and conditions might prevent some shootings but you can't predict someone that appears normal just snapping.

        There country needs to fundementaly change at its core the relationship it has with guns and it's use of violence to solve it's problems.

          Yes in an ideal world you wouldn't have to worry about shooters, but in this case a simple bag check might have caught the firearm on entry and might have prevented the shooting. Only because the apparent nature of this event was that of someone upset they lost rather than someone planning to attack the event from the outside.

          Would it have prevented a fully premeditated murder? no, we rely family, friends and acquaintances notifying law enforcement of people who are potentially at risk of committing attacks.
          Maybe because the USA is so different from Australia that armed guards at events is now a requirement.. but in answer to your post 'how to do you prepare?' you cant give up before you try.. and in the USA it's an identifiable risk that such an event could preclude violence.

          Education, eradication of bullying, and support of mental illness, will always be the 3 main pillars that the US needs to focus on in eradicating 'mass' shootings. Some how reducing the amount of unregistered firearms in circulation is another herculean task that I've not seen a competent answer for.

        Really a bag check at "nearly" every major event, like say the football, cricket, soccer, rugby and lets not forget concerts is that right?
        This was at a SHOPPING CENTRE and how on earth are you going to police everyone who goes in there?

      Durr, you give the good guys guns. More good guys with guns > shoots the bad guys with guns.

    Gotta capitalise whilst it’s still fresh in people’s minds

    I don't think this will work in court. US law on negligence requires a breach of duty of care, and proximate cause (that the harm was foreseeable). Duty of care itself only encompasses protection against things a reasonable person would consider a clear risk.

    A shooting at a video game tournament has, to my knowledge, never happened before in the US. The game in question is not violent. It happened in a pizza shop which opens onto an open air plaza with free street access. I don't think what happened is remotely a foreseeable outcome that would justify a negligence case.

      That kind of sound logic will get you barred from entering 'Murica.

      Last edited 01/09/18 1:30 pm

      he probably doesn't have much choice, he's probably suing in part to recoup his astronomical medical bills.

        Which ea have set up a fund to cover anyway

          Given how much hospital stays cost in the USA. What EA has donated so far wont cover it.

        I would be extremely surprised if EA hadn't offered to cover all medical bills in an attempt to prevent this suit from being filed. What has happened, I believe, is that lawyers have gotten into the victim's ear and said that he should ask for more, since it is a landmark case (and because the lawyers want their cut). EA would be prepared to pay a bit to have this go away, but I think that the lawyers have egged on the victim to shoot for the moon. American litigation...

          I've since heard that EA have set up a fund to pay the medical bills. That still only goes so far, and the way the US system works sometimes you just gotta sue.
          I mean the guy got shot at an event that had next to no security, I can't really blame him for trying to get something better out of it.

            Sure, I mean, he's human. You'd have to be a saint to be happy with just getting your out-of-pockets covered.

            The way lawyers operate, particularly in the US, means that they were likely beating down the victim's door to try and get him to sign a no-win-no-fee retainer, all the while telling him that he had just hit the jackpot by being shot...

              oh yeah for sure, and after the lawyers take their cut the federal tax man takes a cut, then the state tax man takes a cut and then sometimes even the city can take a cut of the settlement. He might be lucky to have enough to buy food on the way home afterwards.

      You're not thinking this through. Cases aren't decided on the law.

      Firstly, the case will never get to court, it'll be settled.

      Secondly, the case if it ever got to court will be decided by a jury. Juries feel bad leaving victims with nothing and in the US routinely award multi million dollar verdicts. Sure, sometimes they don't, but the potential payoff is well worth the crap-shoot.

      Just look at the recent Roundup case, for example.

        I thought it through. I'm aware of the chance for settlement, which is why I said I don't think it'll work as in court, words I chose deliberately. I wouldn't settle a case like this as EA, it's too cleanly in their favour. The majority of cases certainly are decided by law, especially civil cases (like this). Not only does the judge have the power to issue a directed verdict if he feels the burden of proof has been significantly missed, but civil cases allow appeal to an appellate court, where the decision is made by the bench (no jury) on a purely law-driven assessment of the case. Vacated lower court jury verdicts aren't uncommon.

        Of course anything can happen, but I stand by my opinion. I don't think there's sufficient legal grounds for this to work in court, and even less so on appeal.

          Worth also noting, US appellate courts have a 40% reversal rate on appeal of jury trial verdicts that ruled in favour of the plaintiff (Caseload Highlights, CSP 14/1), suggesting that appeals judges have no problem overturning poor jury decisions if they don't align with legal merits.

          Well, you may have thought it through, but you're internet lawyering based on a quick summary in the above article. In fact, these issues have already been anticipated in the claim, for example

          "The attorneys cited a previous shooting outside the Landing in January 2017 and more recent gunfire that actually sent a bullet through the window of their building across the street from the Landing as evidence that such a crime at the venue should have been foreseen."

          Further, it's not going to help EA's case that "the restaurant didn’t have a permit to hold the Madden NFL 19 tournament [and further, the] building layout [had been] altered without approval to create the GLHF Game Bar, the room where the tournament took place."

          I won't link directly to avoid getting auto moderated, but the information isn't hard to find.

          If no proper risk assessment was done prior, as seems likely, this isn't going to help their case either.

          But in any case, you're seriously standing by your argument that it's not reasonably forseeable that a mass shooting may occur at a public-access event where emotions are going to be running high, in a country where every boy and his dog has a gun, and where every school, sports stadium, theme park and government building has medal detectors and bag searches running full time at every entrance to the point that it's more or less an expected part of everyday life there?

            Yes, I'm standing by my argument that the hundreds of thousands of video game competitions that have run in the United States over the last two decades at which there has been no instances of shootings provide no indication to organisers that such a thing is likely and no clear foreseeable risk that would impose a legal burden on the organisers to mitigate.

            This statistic - zero - stands starkly in contrast to the 204 school shootings (32 this year alone) in the last two decades, and 25 government building shoots from 2000-2017, which you're drawing comparison to. I expect the difference should be evident.

    I can understand the case against the venue as it’s usually a venues responsibility to have security on hand for such events. But the case again EA just sounds like a cash grab from a major company.

    Aah the good old US of A. A country that is adamant that guns are good and everyone should have one, yet at the same time, for anything that could ever affect you adversely, there must be a defendant (and preferably a wealthy one) that you can sue for it.

    In this case, the two fit together perfectly.

    Sounds like a vulture lawyer's initiative.

      Yep. I'm sure EA made an offer to cover all out of pockets. They'd be crazy not to. This smells of the victim being greedy, no doubt encouraged by his lawyers telling him that EA will pay up to avoid the negative publicity. Joke's on them, however: EA has no aversion whatsoever to negative publicity.

    The suit alleges that the venue was unsafe and that EA “failed to provide a safe and secure environment” for the participantsFor decades, American politicians have "failed to provide a safe and secure environment" across the whole fucking country. Is Morgan & Morgan going to sue them too?

    Mass Shootings and Litigating anyone even remotely connected to an injury. I dare you to name a more iconic American Duo.

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