The family of Athena Strand, the 7-year-old Texas girl allegedly kidnapped and killed by a delivery driver, is suing FedEx and one of its subcontractors, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday.
The man suspected of killing Athena — Tanner Lynn Horner — delivered packages for FedEx Ground but was employed through a subcontractor, Big Topspin, Inc., according to the lawsuit.
Horner was arrested earlier this month on capital murder and aggravated kidnapping charges after authorities say he accidentally hit Athena with his vehicle while making a delivery to her home on November 30. Horner allegedly told investigators he put the girl in his van and killed her because he was scared she would tell someone she was hit by a FedEx truck, according to two arrest warrants obtained by CNN affiliate KTVT.
The lawsuit was filed by Athena’s father, Jacob Strand, and accuses FedEx and Big Topspin of gross negligence. The suit also accuses Horner of assault. Strand is seeking more than $1 million in damages from the companies and Horner, according to the suit.
“FedEx has continued their normal business operations although it is clear that their current efforts, if any, to ensure that they are not putting dangerous persons in a position of trust wearing FedEx uniforms, driving FedEx branded vehicles, and sending them to the doorsteps of the homes of nearly every person in America is woefully inadequate to avoid endangering the public,” the lawsuit says.
FedEx and Big Topspin are accused of negligently hiring Horner, failing to properly supervise him, and failing to enforce adequate safety policies, the lawsuit says.
In response to the lawsuit, FedEx said in a statement Wednesday, “Our thoughts remain with the family of Athena Strand in the wake of this tragedy. We are aware of the complaint filed against FedEx Ground.”
CNN has attempted to reach Big Topspin, Inc.
Strand’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, said Horner had just delivered her daughter’s Christmas present — a box of Barbie dolls — before Strand disappeared from the driveway.
Horner is being held in Wise County jail on $1.5 million bond, according to inmate records.
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