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Negligent Airport Security and the Fort Lauderdale Airport Shooting


On January 6, 2017, a man opened fire in the Fort Lauderdale airport and killed five people.

One year later, the family of one of the victims filed a wrongful death lawsuit against several entities they claim are responsible for the incident. They are only seeking damages for the pain and suffering they’ve experienced from this tragedy.

The Fort Lauderdale Shooting

On that fateful day in January, one man boarded a one-way flight to Fort Lauderdale from Alaska, checking only a semiautomatic handgun and ammunition in a locked case. The complaint alleges that these facts, along with the man’s behavior, should have raised red flags with the airline. The family claims that the shooter argued with passengers in front of the Delta flight crew and that he was unruly and disruptive.

The complaint further alleges that the shooter’s gun should not have been returned to him within the terminal. The family faults the county and the airport for not implementing more safety precautions, like having off-duty police officers return the weapons and escort the armed passengers off the premises.

The family filed the lawsuit against Delta Air Lines, the Broward County Commission (which oversees operations at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport), and two security companies.

Negligent Security Claims

Business owners can be held liable if they are negligent in providing security for their premises and that negligence results in personal injury or death, or if a guest’s personal property is stolen or damaged. Businesses have a duty under Florida law to keep their customers safe, and providing basic security is a way to prevent foreseeable dangers. Unfortunately, in this day and age mass shootings are arguably foreseeable.

To win a negligent security case, a plaintiff must prove that:

  • The property owner had a duty to provide basic security measures. What constitutes basic security will depend on the type of property, but in this case the victim’s family argues that the return of the shooter’s gun and ammunition was a lapse in basic security.
  • The security lapse caused the incident. In this case, the victim’s family will have to argue that the gun/ammunition policy caused their loved one’s death.
  • The plaintiff suffered damages from the incident. The damages might be physical, monetary or emotional.

Remember that a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the victim’s death, while a personal injury lawsuit must be filed within four years of the incident. This is called the statute of limitations.

Negligent security cases are often complex, which is why you should consult with an experienced attorney if your injury or your loved one’s death resulted from a negligent lapse in security. 

Contact Us Today

Contact a Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you were injured, or if a loved one was killed, in a negligent security incident. Our experienced attorneys will help recover the compensation that you deserve.

The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the Fort Myers, Miami, Orlando, Jacksonville, West Palm Beach, Tampa, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.



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