A Texas law firm recently landed a 1.2 million verdict in a wrongful death lawsuit. The case involved a man named Jacob Matthew Cadriel who was shot by a coworker at his workplace, Indchem, which is a subsidiary of Woven Metal Products. The offense against Jacob Matthew Cadriel was committed by his coworker Steven Damien Young on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Steven Damien Young was subsequently charged with murder and is serving a 45 year sentence. Woven Metal Products did not have a screening process in place for new hires. If their organization did have a screening process, the wrongful death lawsuit could have been avoided because the background check would have revealed Young’s previous convictions that show previous signs of workplace violence with former employers.
The lawsuit alleges that Woven Metal Products was “negligent in knowingly providing an unsafe workplace for its employees and that the company failed to, among other things, conduct comprehensive employment background checks and criminal record searches on their employees.” Management at Woven Metal Products failed to listen numerous employees at the facility who constantly reiterated Young’s unstable behavior.
Cadriel served his country from 2004 to 2009 with two active tours in Iraq. Unfortunately, Texas law does not require background checks and does not allow evidence of previous convictions to be the basis of liability. In addition to this, exemplary damages are also prohibited “when criminal acts of others cause an injury, even if it was from a coworker or invitee to the premises.”
This is just another case of negligent hiring that could and should have easily been avoided by simply conducting a compliant employment background check. Employers all too often have to experience tragedies like the one mentioned above before they see the value in vetting and screening all their employees during the hiring process.