Family of Accent Signage Victim Sues Company, Shooter's Estate

The family of Jake Beneke of Maple Grove says the company should have known shooter Andrew Engeldinger could turn violent.

In a lawsuit recently filed in Hennepin County court, the family of a man killed in last year's Accent Signage massacre is suing the company founded by the late St. Louis Park resident Reuven Rahamim.

The estate of shooter Andrew Engeldinger is also named as a defendant. Engledinger gunned down six co-workers in September 2012 after being fired, including Maple Grove resident Jake Beneke, whose family has filed the suit.

The lawsuit alleges Accent Signage managers knew Engeldinger was an unstable and potentially violent person, and should have taken more precautions when firing him. In particular, the suit says Engeldinger should not have been given warning that he was being fired and been allowed to retrieve a gun from his car. The suit is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

The lawsuit bases much of its argument on claims that Engeldinger threatened Beneke and other employees prior to the shootings, and that Beneke feared for his life as he left for work the day he was murdered.

A Star-Tribune report said there is not much hard evidence currently known that would support the suit's claims. MPR reports Engeldinger was disciplined several times for offensive behavior, poor job performance, and for tardiness.

An expert interviewed by the Star Tribune said the plaintiff's lawyer, Phil Villaume, faced an uphill battle proving Accent Signage managers were grossly negligent in how they dealt with Engeldinger's firing.

"It takes a very, very high level of culpability, almost to the nature of an intentional act," (attorney Peter Riley) said. "I've been doing this for 36 years, and I cannot recall a case where the facts were found to satisfy the gross negligence standard."

However, he said Beneke's family does have a case against Engeldinger's estate, although it's unclear whether the assets are worth much.

Reuven Rahamim's son, during President Barack Obama's State of the Union address at 8 p.m. Tuesday.

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Michael Hindin February 12, 2013 at 07:55 PM
This is a horrible tragedy for the families, friends and coworkers involved. My condolences. Suing Accent Signage is allowed and may not result in a monetary settlement, but is it ethical to punish this family business for the actions of a murderous exemployee when they have suffered the loss of the founder?
rob_h78 February 18, 2013 at 12:43 AM
If the company had reason to suspect that the man was unstable and could potentially pose a threat at the time of firing, then yes, perhaps the company should be held to account for not using adequate caution if there is evidence that the man was not stable and if he had made threats in the past.
rob_h78 February 18, 2013 at 12:45 AM
As we see these shootings occur, can any company really say that they had no potential indication that something might go wrong with a disgruntled employee? We all see them in the news, guns are easily and readily available to everyone regardless of mental capacity - so there is no surprise that someone who is mad might show up at a company and open fire and as time goes on I believe companies will have to be able to prove pro-active steps to protect their employees or will likely be held to account for not providing a work environment that was as safe as possible from a whacked out former or current employee.
Mel H February 21, 2013 at 03:19 PM
Family business or corporate work place -- it is the employer's responsibility to protect its employees with best practices and appropriate processes. So yes, it is ethical.


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