Survivors of Two Men Killed
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (APBnews.com) -- In a civil case that could have nationwide implications for companies whose employees are threatened by potentially violent co-workers, a jury has awarded $7.9 million to the widows of two managers gunned down in 1995 by a man they had fired two days earlier.
Warehouse worker James Floyd Davis surrendered to police outside of the Union Butterfield building shortly after the shootings. Davis was convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the shootings and is awaiting execution on North Carolina’s death row.
Surviving co-workers testified that they heard Davis threaten to “take management with him” if he was fired, but that management failed to take any security precautions when warned of the threats. Davis had been in trouble on the job for at least a year prior to his termination for arguing or fighting with co-workers on four occasions.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Thomas Ramer of Asheville told APBnews.com that the jury’s compensatory award to the widows of Frank Knox and Gerald Allman “sends a message to employers and business owners that they have a duty to take greater precautions to protect their employees. Juries will hold them accountable.”
There was no security guard on the premises as Davis came through the plant’s front door armed with a pistol and an M-1 semiautomatic rifle he had bought that morning. He shot and killed Vice President of Finance Tony Baylogh and Purchasing Manager Gerald Allman in the break room, then headed down the hall toward the management offices.
Defense attorneys argued during the eight-week trial that Davis bears sole responsibility for the triple murder and that management could not have known that he would return to the plant for revenge two days after his firing.
Since the 1995 incident, the company has begun hiring private security guards to protect employees when an employee is terminated.