Santa Clara VTA, eight shooting victims’ families reach agreement

Nov. 11, 2022
The settlement calls for each family to receive compensation in addition to various support measures the authority previously agreement to provide and ends wrongful death lawsuits of eight families against the authority.
Vta Draped Logo 636e6433bb1f1

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

Nine Santa Clara VTA employees were killed when a disgruntled employee opened fire in Building B at the yard before turning the gun on himself. One 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 wrongful death lawsuits.

The settlement will see eight of those lawsuits withdrawn, with the exception of the family of Lars Kepler Lane, who did not settle with the authority.

Each family will receive monetary compensation per the settlement, which is in addition to workers’ compensation benefits and alternative pre-retirement death benefits, pension benefit enhancements, health insurance coverage and other funds that VTA has committed to pay in deference to the tragedy.

VTA Board Chair Charles “Chappie” Jones said, “While nothing will bring back the tragic loss of life, we wanted to move swiftly to meet the families’ needs.”

Attorneys Gary Gwilliam, Philip Borowsky, Jeff Rickard, Randy Strauss, William Mayoff and Richard Alexander, who represented the eight families, commended the authority for “agreeing to provide a prompt resolution."

“VTA will continue to work together with families, our employees and the community to honor those who lost their lives,” said VTA General Manager and CEO Carolyn Gonot. "We remain committed to moving VTA forward for our community in a meaningful and successful way.”

Gonot said the authority has made significant strides since the tragedy to attend to victims’ families and continues to work closely with union leadership and staff to make important and lasting workplace changes.

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

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

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