Navy Yard wrongful death lawsuit re-filed in Florida court

Lawyers for the family of one of the Navy Yard shooting victims have re-filed in a Florida court a wrongful death lawsuit alleging negligence on the part of the U.S. government and two contractors.

The suit — filed Wednesday in Hillsborough County Circuit Court on behalf of the family of Mary Frances DeLorenzo Knight — makes similar claims to those alleged in a federal lawsuit filed last year, then dismissed for procedural reasons. It also includes new claims based on the results of the government’s own investigations, said Sidney L. Matthew, one of the lawyers who filed the suit.

The new suit takes particular aim at the contractors who employed shooter Aaron Alexis and were supposed to check his background, alleging that they failed to report concerns about his mental stability. But Matthew said still central to the lawsuit is that the government failed to secure the Navy Yard and failed to respond appropriately to the myriad signs of mental health issues the shooter exhibited in the months and years before the massacre.

Knight, a computer scientist from Reston, was one of a dozen people Alexis gunned down at the southeast D.C. facility.

Matthew said the lawyers filed the suit in state court — as opposed to federal court — to try to keep all the defendants together. He said it is possible it will again move to federal court.

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Matt Zapotosky covers the federal district courthouse in Alexandria, where he tries to break news from a windowless office in which he is not allowed to bring his cell phone.
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