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VTA settles with families of eight victims of 2021 rail yard shooting

Terms of settlement not disclosed; Dublin man's family among those to take deal to end litigation
VTA May 26, 2021 mass shooting victims.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority announced a settlement Friday, with the families of eight victims of last year's shooting at the Guadalupe Light Rail Yard, including Dublin resident Jose Hernandez III.

The eight families filed wrongful death lawsuits earlier this year against the VTA, Santa Clara County, the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office and the security company tasked with protecting the rail yard, Universal Protection Service, over accusations of failing to investigate or take action after workers complained about the shooter's actions while at work.

VTA Board Chair Chappie Jones said the agency wanted to "move swiftly to meet the families' needs." The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

"We commend VTA for agreeing to provide a prompt resolution for our families as to their claims against VTA," said the families' attorneys Gary Gwilliam, Philip Borowsky, Jeff Rickard, Randy Strauss, William Mayoff and Richard Alexander in a joint statement.

Nine VTA employees -- Hernandez III, 35; Abdojlvahab Alaghmandan, 63; Adrian Balleza, 29; Lars Lane, 63; Michael Rudometkin, 40; Paul Megia, 42; Taptejeep Singh, 36; Timothy Romo, 49; and Alex Fritch, 49 -- were killed during the shooting at the maintenance yard on West Younger Avenue in San Jose.

A 10th worker, Henry Gonzales, was found dead in his home in August 2021 of an apparent suicide after witnessing the shooting.

The families of Fritch, Megia, Rudometkin, Singh, Alaghmandan, Hernandez, Romo and Lane filed three separate lawsuits on May 26, 2022 -- the one-year anniversary of the shooting -- arguing that the VTA agreed to a $50 million security contract with the sheriff's office and Universal Protection Service, both of which allegedly failed to conduct proper security screening, risk mitigation efforts and surveillance.

The lawsuits also alleged that the shooter, 57-year-old Sam Cassidy, has a "pattern of insubordination," had been involved in multiple altercations with co-workers and that VTA workers had agreed he was the most likely staff member to "go postal."

Cassidy opened fire around 6:30 a.m. during a shift change at the rail yard. More than 40 employees were on site at the time. Law enforcement officials determined Cassidy killed himself before he could be confronted or apprehended.

As part of the settlement, the eight families have withdrawn their lawsuits.

Lars Lane's family is the only one that has not settled with the VTA, according to the transit agency.

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