San Jose VTA faces lawsuit from family of shooting victim
A light rail train arrives at the Metro/Airport station in San Jose in this file photo.

One year after a disgruntled worker killed nine colleagues at the VTA rail yard in downtown San Jose, the family of one victim is suing for negligence.

The family of Lars Kepler Lane filed a lawsuit Thursday against VTA, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and Universal Protection Service, VTA’s private security contractor. The suit, filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court, seeks damages for various claims, including negligence, assault, battery, false imprisonment and wrongful death. It does not say how much financial compensation the family is seeking. A mediation is scheduled with VTA for June 15.

“We are heartbroken, but we remain hopeful that this lawsuit will force these organizations to make changes that will prevent other families from suffering like we have,” Lane’s widow, Vicki Lane, said in a statement.

VTA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office declined comment citing pending litigation. San José Spotlight was not immediately able to reach a representative from Universal Protection Service.

The May 26, 2021 mass shooting was committed by a disgruntled VTA technician named Samuel Cassidy, who took his own life after killing nine of his coworkers. The attack took place over the span of approximately 10 minutes, mostly in a rail yard building that has since been demolished. The rail yard is located approximately 800 feet from the Sheriff’s Office.

The lawsuit notes the shooting was the deadliest in the Bay Area since the 101 California Street shooting in San Francisco in 1993, when a gunman killed eight people in a law firm.

The suit claims VTA was aware Cassidy was repeatedly insubordinate and had verbal altercations with coworkers. VTA was also allegedly aware of employee concerns that he might “go postal.” Vicki Lane claims VTA failed to take action to address this potential threat.

“By failing to act, VTA gave a man with known and dangerous propensities access to 379 employees at the yard. Nine of them are dead as a result,” attorney Eva Silva, one of several lawyers representing the Lane family, said in a statement.

VTA has had a security contract since 2014 with the Sheriff’s Office and Allied Security, the suit claims. The latter was acquired by Universal Protection Service. According to the lawsuit, VTA has paid a total of more than $50 million to both parties for various security services. The suit said Allied Security’s website references focusing on active shooter situations. It goes on to allege Allied Security and the Sheriff’s Office failed to take appropriate measures to maintain the safety of the building, including the use of a weapons detector system.

Dan Schaar, an attorney who represents the Lane family, told San José Spotlight there’s video footage from shortly before the attack that shows no one was stopped or checked at the security gate to the yard. He noted that Cassidy was carrying a duffel bag with over 300 rounds of ammunition and three guns, which would have been easily caught during a screening.

Schaar said he didn’t have a specific dollar amount the family is seeking.

“This is a life-altering event that affected Vicki, David, Robert and Michael,” Schaar said, referring to Lane’s widow and children. “In order for justice to be achieved, these defendants are going to need to pay a substantial sum.”

Contact Eli Wolfe at [email protected] or @EliWolfe4 on Twitter.

This story will be updated.

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