A PHILADELPHIA JURY yesterday awarded more than $38.5 million in punitive damages to the families of two women shot dead in 2010 by a suspended co-worker at the Kraft Foods plant in Northeast Philadelphia.
Last month, another jury delivered a verdict against Georgia-based U.S. Security Associates Inc., which provided security at the plant, for compensatory damages in excess of $8 million. That earlier jury, however, deadlocked on the punitive damages.
The combined Common Pleas Court verdicts now set the total award for the victims' families at more than $46.5 million.
"It's an important message to security companies with guards at companies in Philadelphia," said Shanin Specter, the attorney who argued the case on behalf of the families of the deceased victims, Tanya Wilson, 47, and LaTonya Brown, 36.
"The guard can't just run away when there is a crisis."
The jury viewed surveillance video showing the supervisor running away. He hid in a boiler room and called 9-1-1, but never sounded an alarm. According to a written policy, the guards "were supposed to notify Kraft management," Specter said.
"It's a good policy" that was poorly executed, Specter said. "They actually have to act like security guards," he added.
Shooter Yvonne Hiller used a .357 Magnum in the incident, during which she also shot and wounded a third co-worker. She was convicted in 2012 of two counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder and is serving life in prison.