Cut up Georgia Court docket Says FedEx Is Not Accountable For Warehouse Shootings

Cobb County Police are investigating the scene at the guard hut following a shooting at a FedEX Corp facility at an airport in Kennesaw, Ga., April 29, 2014. REUTERS / Tami Chappell

  • The shooting of six wounded was not foreseeable, the court says
  • A dissenting judge says previous incidents have notified FedEx

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(Reuters) – A split Georgia state appeals court has ruled that FedEx Corp cannot be held liable for injuries sustained by an employee in a 2014 mass shooting of a warehouse by another worker because the company could not have anticipated the rampage.

The Georgia Court of Appeals, First Division, said Tuesday in a 2-1 ruling that a history of threats and violence by workers in the camp did not mean the shooting, in which plaintiff Melissa Shadow and five other people were in front of the shooter committed suicide, was likely.

Shadow had argued that a series of incidents at the Kennesaw, Georgia warehouse and other FedEx facilities, as well as the proliferation of mass shootings in the United States, were enough to notify the company.

“If we were to adopt Shadow’s standard of predictability, we would essentially be stating by law that a mass shooting was predictable for every organization and owner of the property, and that owners would be essentially liable to keep an invitee safe,” said Judge Todd Markle wrote.

Tennessee-based FedEx and its attorneys at Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Wednesday. Neither did Shadow’s lawyers at Isenberg & Hewitt.

In April 2014, FedEx employee Geddy Kramer walked into the Kennesaw warehouse early one morning, shot a security guard, and then shot Shadow and several others before killing himself.

Shadow filed a lawsuit in a Georgia state court in 2015 against FedEx, the company that employed the facility’s security guards, and Kramer’s estate. She alleged, among other things, negligence, failure to issue warnings and the lack of adequate securities.

A state judge issued a summary judgment to FedEx in February 2020. She said the company couldn’t be held responsible for Shadow’s injuries under state law because the shooting was unpredictable.

Shadow appealed, arguing that the judge set the bar too high at the summary judgment stage. Shadow said FedEx could have anticipated the shooting due to several other violent incidents at the Kennesaw warehouse and other facilities.

In 2011, for example, a fired employee in Kennesaw threatened to shoot other workers, according to the files. Later that year, a domestic violence incident occurred at a FedEx facility in Illinois in which the perpetrator committed suicide, prompting the company to update its occupational safety guidelines.

But the First Division said Tuesday these incidents weren’t similar enough to the 2014 shootings to hook FedEx.

Most of the incidents cited by Shadow involved only verbal threats, and the Illinois shooting was not an accidental act, Markle wrote. And the mere fact that mass shootings could occur did not make the Kennesaw shooting predictable, said the judge, who was joined by Judge Elizabeth Gobeil.

Dissenting Judge Anne Barnes said calling for an earlier, almost identical incident to hold FedEx liable for the shooting was “the equivalent of a one-free-bite rule”.

“I don’t think our law requires people to be shot or killed in order to determine that workplace violence is predictable,” wrote Barnes. “If it’s predictable, it’s predictable, and if nothing is done with it, it’s negligent.”

The case is Shadow v FedEx Corp, Georgia Court of Appeals, First Division, No. A21A0072.

For shadows: Melvin Hewitt from Isenberg & Hewitt

For FedEx: Christopher Byrd of Weinberg Wheeler Hudgins Gunn & Dial

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Six injured, suspected dead in Georgia FedEx shooting

Daniel Wiessner

Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) reports on labor and labor law as well as immigration law, including litigation and policy making. He can be reached at