ATLANTA — Two former Amazon Flex delivery drivers said they were violently shot by a customer as they were dropping off packages at his Georgia home -- and now they're suing the e-commerce giant for $400 million in damages, court records show.
Famed civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump announced he and his co-counsel are representing DeKalb County resident Eduardo Gutierrez and Fulton County resident Lawyer Denson.
Gutierrez and Denson were separately dispatched to deliver packages to the same address where the customer lived on Jan. 13, attorneys for the pair said in a news release. The lawsuit alleges that Amazon's failure to provide information or training about hostile situations is why both men were severely hurt that day.
Gutierrez was dispatched by the Amazon Flex app to the customer's home along Neal Street in northwest Atlanta around 7 p.m., court records show. The lawsuit said Gutierrez approached the front door of the residence and noted glass panes were broken. After he left the package he walked back to his vehicle when he saw a laser pointing at him, records read. Attorneys said shortly after, the customer fired five shots at Gutierrez -- one hit his stomach.
"In fear for his life, Plaintiff Gutierrez quickly ran to his car and drove away," the lawsuit states. He called 911 to report the shooting, and then his wife to say he'd been shot, adding he loved her and their infant son. He later stumbled into a restaurant where the owner called for emergency medical services, court records show. He was taken to Grady Memorial Hospital for treatment.
A few minutes after the shooting, Denson was dispatched to the same address to deliver packages. As he arrived to make the drop-off, the same customer fired several shots at him, attorneys said. Court documents say Denson suffered a shot to his spinal cord and immediately lost feeling in his legs, leaving him to drag himself back to his vehicle while calling 911. He was unable to reach a dispatcher so he called his mother who repeatedly dialed for authorities and eventually reached an operator, Crump's office said. Paramedics arrived to rush Denson to the hospital. Denson cannot feel or move his legs and is now paraplegic.
"As a result of Amazon Defendants’ egregious failures outlined herein, two innocent workers—Plaintiffs Denson and Gutierrez—were shot by an Amazon customer and sustained severe, life-threatening injuries and damages as they attempted to deliver packages on behalf of Amazon," attorneys wrote in the lawsuit.
Court documents say Amazon's first act of negligence was failing to provide garments that would clearly identify the workers as Amazon delivery drivers. Attorneys added that Amazon exposed two people to harm by not consolidating deliveries to the same address and did not provide any information about the delivery being in "a high crime area known as 'The Bluff' in Atlanta, Georgia."
The lawsuit continues to criticize the Amazon Flex software for not tracking deliveries and notifying customers when a driver is approaching their home calling the software a "standard in the industry." Crump's office is also alleging that Amazon failed to provide any training to its drivers on how to handle angry or hostile customers, especially when threatened with dangerous weapons.
“These two men were seriously injured while working for Amazon, one of the largest and wealthiest businesses in the world,” Crump said in a news release. “Amazon has a moral obligation to do more to protect its employees."
The lawsuit said the two men suffered temporary and permanent injuries, adding that along with immediate pain and suffering they have also suffered post-traumatic stress and depression. Their attorneys said their lives have been changed because of this on-the-job shooting.
As a result, Denson's legal team is suing for $350 million to cover medical care and ongoing expenses as well as his pain and suffering. Gutierrez is suing for $50 million on similar grounds, court documents state.
The lawsuit seeks to put the issue before a jury on Amazon's dime.
In a statement, Amazon expressed its sympathies for those affected.
“We’re aware of this terrible incident, and express our deepest sympathies to the two drivers involved. In addition, we offer our support to them both and to law enforcement as they investigate these crimes,” spokeswoman, Kelly Nantel said.