Santa Clara VTA, families of eight shooting victims reach settlement


An agreement has been reached between the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) and the families of eight victims of the May 26, 2021 shooting at the Guadalupe Light Rail Yard in Santa Clara VTA.

Nine Santa Clara VTA employees were killed when a disgruntled employee opened fire in Building B in the yard before turning the gun on himself. A year after the shooting, the families of the nine victims – Abdolvahab Alaghmandan, Adrian Balleza, Alex Ward Fritch, Jose Dejesus Hernandez III, Paul Delacruz Megia, Timothy Michael Romo, Michael Joseph Rudometkin, Taptejdeep Singh and Lars Kepler Lane – filed suit for wrongful death. court case.

The settlement will see eight of those lawsuits withdrawn, except for the family of Lars Kepler Lane, who have not settled with the authority.

Each family will receive monetary compensation in accordance with the settlement, which will be in addition to workers’ compensation and alternative pre-retirement death benefits, pension benefit improvements, health insurance coverage and other funds that VTA has pledged to pay out of respect for the tragedy.

VTA Board Chairman Charles “Chappie” Jones said: “While nothing will bring back the tragic loss of life, we wanted to act quickly to meet the needs of the families.”

Lawyers Gary Gwilliam, Philip Borowsky, Jeff Rickard, Randy Strauss, William Mayoff and Richard Alexander, who represented the eight families, praised the authority for “agreeing to provide a speedy resolution”.

“VTA will continue to work with families, our employees and the community to honor those who have lost their lives,” said VTA Managing Director and CEO Carolyn Gonot. “We remain committed to moving VTA forward for our community in meaningful and successful ways.”

Gonot said the authority has made significant progress since the tragedy in caring for the families of the victims and continues to work closely with union leaders and staff to bring significant and lasting change to the workplace.

New workplace changes include additional safety measures, extensive mental health resources for employees and their families, the demolition of Building B where the mass shooting began, memorials for deceased VTA employees and a variety of long-term organizational improvements in the aftermath of the tragedy. .

Santa Clara VTA partners with Santa Clara County and the District Attorney’s Office to provide support to VTA employees and families of victims through a dedicated Resilience Center where mental health services and other resources are provided free of charge to those who ask for help. In response to the light rail yard shooting, the San Jose City Council has tightened local gun laws, which include a nation-leading policy requiring all gun owners in San Jose to purchase liability insurance and pay fees to support intervention programs.


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