Survivors of Gilroy Garlic Fest Shooting Sue Event Organizers

A lawsuit filed Tuesday in Santa Clara County Superior Court alleges that negligent security allowed a heavily armed gunman to enter the Gilroy Garlic Festival on July 28, killing three people and injuring at least 14 others.

The lawsuit against the Gilroy Garlic Festival Association, various security companies and other unnamed defendants was filed by the Scarlett Law Group of San Francisco on behalf of five victims who suffered multiple life-threatening gunshot wounds. More plaintiffs could join the suit, said lawyer Randall H. Scarlett, who said it was too soon to identify a dollar amount for a damage claim.

The festival association doesn’t have very deep pockets: Its Internal Revenue Service Form 990 listed $868,216 in net assets for 2018, down from $1,282,191 in net assets for 2017. Scarlett said medical bills for just two of the plaintiffs have already totaled more than $2 million each, with treatment continuing.

The lawsuit claims that the association, a Gilroy-based non-profit, could have done numerous things to make the festival safer, including maintaining a secure perimeter, monitoring that perimeter and other vulnerable areas with trained guards and properly staffing security personnel.

“Reasonable steps could have avoided this completely,” Scarlett told a crowded press conference while announcing the suit earlier this week.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit do not at this point include the families of the three people killed by the gunman: Stephen Romero, Keyla Salazar and Trevor Irby.

The Garlic Festival Association later Tuesday released the following statement: “The lawsuit filed today stemming from a horrific act of domestic terrorism, is not unexpected, and we will respond through the appropriate legal channels. As a non-profit organization, we must remain focused on our mission: fundraising for the entire community of Gilroy and the more than 150 charities that rely on us.”

10 Comments

  1. Likely the Gilroy Police Department is going to have some issues related to their training and qualifications in their contracting for security with this event as well. Maybe all that misconduct and the harassment lawsuit filed by the former police dispatcher is going to be more relevant than our local courts wanted us to believe. Good thing we have SB1421.

    We continue to ignore persistent issues related to domestic violence in the shooter’s family history and the incompetence of DA investigators such as Jeffrey Nichols who have no idea how to investigate domestic violence and the threat it poses in our community.

    The shooter’s grandfather was a Santa Clara County Supervisor. During a divorce, his wife alleged he was sexually molesting their daughter. He was criminally charged and found not guilty by a jury four days before the election. That boy, a Gilroy High School graduate, grew up having to believe either his grandfather sexually molested his aunt, or his grandmother lied in a divorce case. Either way that boy was doomed and no mental health expert at Gilroy High ever noticed this.

    It isn’t just about this lawsuit.

    The article in the San Jose Mercury last week: https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/11/10/these-california-police-officers-were-charged-with-brutalizing-loved-ones-so-why-are-so-many-still-carrying-a-gun/

    reveals the failure of the mainstream media to report domestic violence issues impacting police. Domestic Violence reported in family law cases ( far more than 84), involving a police officer are not just underreported, they are NOT reported on at all.

    In 2011 a San Jose Police officer killed his wife and then himself in the Gilroy community. Jeffrey Nichols, was a police officer working for the San Jose Police Department at the time. He and all the other SJPD officers missed the signs of domestic violence involving one of their own. Jeffrey Nichols is now employed with the DA as an investigator. SB1421 records show Mr. Nichols had special ” threat assessment training” ion February 2019. Guess Mr. Nichols’ ‘ expertise and training ” wasn’t much help when it came to accessing the threat to the victims of the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting. Maybe Mr. Nichols should learn how to read family court files before he spends all his time on the public clock looking for threats on social media.

  2. > The lawsuit claims that the association, a Gilroy-based non-profit, could have done numerous things to make the festival safer, including maintaining a secure perimeter, monitoring that perimeter and other vulnerable areas with trained guards and properly staffing security personnel.

    Gee. Now a community festival of fun and conviviality is expected to have “a secure perimeter (concertina wire?) and “trained guards (with pepper spray, assault rifles and attack dogs?)”.

    Sounds like the terrorists — and the trial lawyers — may have won.

  3. This is a fundraising event held in a public park. The safety of any guest cannot be guaranteed. The festival took reasonable precautions even though it did not try to guard against every possibility.

    While I feel bad for the victims, their suit will lead to the bankrupting of the festival and the end of this longtime fun event. Another lasting legacy for that madman with a gun.

  4. Yep, thanks California litagation lawyers. Everyone wants to blame somebody and litagation lawyers are the first to feed on whatever they feel who has the most money, How do you stop all crazy people from bizarre actions? Don’t know but having litigation lawyers sue everybody won’t solve the problem

    • Mark my words, and research, family law attorneys in Santa Clara County are far worse than any civil attorney. These lawyers , connected through the local bar association are using the county’s divorce and custody cases to earn millions of dollars in fees and the judges are letting this happen. Whatever comes of this case is chump change when compared to a single middle class divorce case that lawyers are dragging out 5-10 years, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to do nothing but separate and destroy families and children for profit. Notice no coverage of that in our local media.

      • > Whatever comes of this case is chump change when compared to a single middle class divorce case that lawyers are dragging out 5-10 years, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars to do nothing but separate and destroy families and children for profit.

        I don’t dispute your premise that there are abundant numbers of lizards and reptiles in the family court system and among divorce lawyers.

        But I think the causes are much deeper and the cause agents are far removed from the front lines of societal destruction. The cause agents are well camouflaged and “popular” in political circles, and any hope of arresting our societal destruction will require some serious shaming of beloved current and past members of the political aristocracy.

        In order to shame them, you have to name them.

        • > In order to shame them, you have to name them.

          I should add that the shameful agents of our social destruction are extremely viscous and vengeful, and “naming and shaming” them has large risks.

          Expect to have your dog killed or being accused of being a pedophile or of colluding with the Russians.

  5. Expecting festivals in public places to be guarded like prisons is absurd.
    The article mentions the assets of the sponsoring organization, but says nothing about what insurance coverage it had or did not have.
    Lawyers always look for the money.
    None of the injured will be adequately compensated, and the lawyers will take 40% of the recovery plus their expenses, making the situation worse.
    It is telling that the families of those killed have not joined in.
    At the end of the day, it’s the troubled nut job who pulled the trigger who is almost 100% responsible for this horrible tragedy, but the lawyers can’t get blood out of a dead turnip.

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