Shooting victim’s family sues Accent Signage

The family of Jacob Beneke alleges his employer was negligent

Jacob Beneke, 33, was one of six people shot and killed by Andrew Engeldinger, a coworker at Accent Signage. Credit: Submitted image

BRYN MAWR — The family of one of six men killed in September’s shooting at Accent Signage is suing the company and the estate of shooter Andrew Engledinger.

Attorney Phillip Villaume, representing the family of Jacob Beneke, said Feb. 1 they planned to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court alleging negligence on the part of Accent Signage. They allege company managers should have known Engeldinger was mentally ill and potentially violent, according to a copy of the complaint.

“Basically, we allege that the company was negligent, grossly negligent for failing to have proper security on the premises when they terminated Engeldinger,” Villaume said. “And we take the position that had they had proper security on the premises the shootings could have been prevented.”

Beneke’s family is seeking damages in excess of $50,000.

Engeldinger, 36, was hired by Accent Signage in 1999 and worked as an engraver. On Sept. 27, he was called into a meeting with two managers and told his employment would be terminated for poor performance on the job. That was when Engeldinger began his rampage through the Bryn Mawr office building, shooting and killing six people before taking his own life.

Just before the meeting, Engeldinger left the building and went to his vehicle where, according to police reports, he retrieved the Glock 9 mm semi-automatic pistol used in the shooting. The complaint alleges Accent Signage managers should have been aware for Engeldinger’s “abusive” behavior toward fellow employees, taken precautions and had extra security on hand for the meeting.

Villaume said he was aware of similar lawsuits filed by several of the families of victims killed in the December shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, but acknowledged the case was moving into relatively uncharted legal territory. Villaume added he did not know if any other families of the Accent Signage shooting victims planned to sue.

“It’s not a typical approach,” he said. “It’s actually a pretty unique approach.”

Accent Signage spokesperson Wendy Khabie said the company was reviewing the complaint and did not yet have a comment on the lawsuit.

Villaume said the family filed the lawsuit “out of principal.”

“They think the company should be held accountable for what happened,” he said.

Company founder Reuven Rahamim was among those killed by Engeldinger. Since the shooting, his son Sami has spoken out nationally for stricter gun control laws.