The family members of Dayna Less, who was killed in a mass shooting at Mercy Hospital last year, have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the hospital.
The shooting occurred on Nov. 19, 2018. Gunman Juan Lopez fatally shot his former fiance, Dr. Tamara O’Neal after confronting her in the hospital parking lot. He then went back inside the hospital and fatally shot Less, a pharmacy resident, as she was getting off the elevator.
Lopez also killed Chicago Police Officer Samuel Jimenez during a gun battle with police before turning the gun on himself.
The lawsuit accuses Mercy Hospital of failing to follow their own protocols in response to the shooting. The suit argues that the hospital and security agency didn’t issue a “Code Silver” alert for an active shooter or put the building under lockdown.
The lawsuit says that the alert would have warned Less about the threat and the lockdown would have stopped Lopez from entering the hospital after shooting O’Neal in the parking lot.
The suit additionally argues that a lockdown would have shut down the hospital’s elevators, preventing Less from riding from the basement pharmacy in the elevator she was shot in.
Matthew Piers, an attorney for the family, said that security officials were negligent in failing to confront Lopez during the time he spent in the hospital lobby.
“Mercy and SDI literally watched this armed and dangerous man hunt down and kill Dr. O’Neal, then shoot at the police when they arrived, and then stop and reload his weapon. Yet they did nothing,” he explained. “Amazingly, they continued to do nothing as Lopez walked back into the still unlocked hospital building.”
Less was a Lake Central High School and Purdue University’s College of Pharmacy graduate. She started her hospital residency in July 2018.
Her parents, Brian and Teena, “will continue to suffer the indescribable loss of their only child for the rest of their lives,” the lawsuit states. “Dayna was exceptional in so many ways and was the pride and bright star of the Less family and a joy to everyone who met her.”
“Their suffering is compounded by the horrific circumstances of her death, the knowledge of their intense suffering between the time of the first encounter with Lopez and her demise some time later, and the knowledge of how easily Defendants Mercy, SDI and Trinity could have prevented it,” it said.