A wrongful death lawsuit filed Thursday alleges security officers at Chicago's Mercy Hospital watched on camera as a man gunned down a doctor in the parking lot but failed take any steps to prevent him from re-entering the hospital and killing a former St. John woman and a police officer.
Attorneys for the estate of Dayna Less and her father, Brian Less, filed the lawsuit Thursday in Cook County Circuit Court.
Defendants named in the suit include Mercy Hospital and Medical Center, its parent company Trinity Heath, its security contractor SDI Security and an administrator for the estate of shooter Juan Lopez.
Dayna Less, 24, a former St. John resident and pharmacy resident at Mercy Hospital; Dr. Tamara O'Neal, 38, a Portage native who lived in LaPorte, and Chicago police Officer Samuel Jimenez, 28, were slain in the mass shooting November 2018 at the hospital.
Lopez killed himself after he shot Jimenez and was wounded during a gunfight with Chicago police in a hospital hallway, the suit states. Lopez and O'Neal had recently called off their engagement.
Dayna Less was a graduate of Lake Central High School and Purdue University's College of Pharmacy. She began her residency at Mercy Hospital in July 2018 and was engaged to be married to her boyfriend of nine years in June 2019.
Matthew Piers, an attorney for the Less family, said Dayna Less would still be alive if the defendants had taken "even the most elemental and obvious steps to prevent these shootings."
"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," Piers said. "Amazingly, they continued to do nothing as Lopez walked back into the still unlocked hospital building. And even then, watching all that time, they did not implement an active shooter alert — a so-called 'Code Silver' — until after Lopez shot Dayna multiple times. By then, it was far too late."
According to the lawsuit, Mercy Hospital and SDI employees were aware that Lopez had arrived in the hospital lobby at 1:43 p.m. Nov. 19, 2018. Lopez remained in the lobby until 3:12 p.m., when he went to a parking lot to confront and shoot O'Neal.
During his time in the lobby, Lopez's behavior became increasingly suspicious. No one from Mercy or SDI approached him during that time or questioned his presence, the suit states.
Security officers watched on camera as Lopez confronted O'Neal, who ran from Lopez and began asking bystanders for help as he chased her around the parking lot. The hospital's security director was notified of the confrontation and that Lopez had a gun, but a lockdown was not ordered until after Lopez reloaded and re-entered the hospital.
Unaware of the chaos unfolding, Dayna Less and a co-worker got off an elevator and were confronted by Lopez, who told them both to leave. As they ran away, Lopez opened fire and mortally wounded Less. She died at another hospital.
"After she was shot, Dayna was injured and spent time in excruciating pain, suffering and anguish, alone on the empty lobby floor, without her loved ones, as she gasped for air and eventually died," the suit states.
Attorney Mark Dym, who also represents the Less family, said Dayna's parents, Brian and Teena Less, "continue to suffer the indescribable pain of this loss every day."
"Their suffering and loss are compounded by their knowledge of the reckless conduct of the defendants and how easily they could have prevented the murder of Dayna," Dym said.
"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," the lawsuit states. "Their suffering is compounded by the horrific circumstances of her death, the knowledge of her intense suffering between the time of the first encounter with Lopez and her demise some time later, and the knowledge of how easily the defendants Mercy, SDI and Trinity could have prevented it."