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Family members of Capital Gazette murder victims planning lawsuit against Tribune; Employee buyouts also pending

Annapolis, MD (WNAV)–Surviving family members of those murdered at The Capital Gazette offices at 888 Bestgate Road are planning to file a lawsuit against Tribune Publishing for failure to provide adequate security, according to a person familiar with the case.

An attorney familiar with the statute of limitations, who is not representing the families, says that under Maryland Courts and Judicial Procedure Code Section 5-101, “the default deadline for civil lawsuits in Maryland is three years from the date it accrues, unless another law says otherwise.” It is possible that if a lawsuit does get filed it will have to be sometime before June 28 of this year, which is three years after the gunman opened fire and killed Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, Rebecca Smith, Wendi Winters and John McNamara. Six other staff members in the newsroom that afternoon survived the attack.

Those intimately involved in the case say that because jury selection for part two of the trial against Jarrod Ramos, the confessed killer, is to begin June 23, they have been advised to provide no comments on the prospect of a lawsuit. The shooter confessed to all the crimes, however the upcoming trial will decide if he’s criminally responsible, which is Maryland’s version of the insanity defense.

Ramos had a longstanding and well-documented beef with The Capital Gazette in the years leading up to murders.

In a separate matter, buyouts are also being offered to senior members of The Capital Gazette according to sources. Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund, owns Tribune Publishing newspapers. For it’s cost-cutting measures and decimating newsrooms, Alden has been referred to as a “vulture” fund, among other names.

A voluntary separation plan was sent in May to nonunion newsroom employees at other Tribune newspapers. The offer includes 12 weeks of pay for eligible employees with three or more years of continuous service, plus an additional week of pay for every year with the company. Eligible employees with less than three years of service would receive eight weeks of pay under the plan.

All of these events are coming to light as the City of Annapolis plans a ribbon cutting for its Guardians of the First Amendment Memorial on June 28, the anniversary of the murders.