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Erik Scott’s family files wrongful death lawsuit against Costco

Less than three months after Erik Scott’s family members dropped a federal lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department, they filed a wrongful death lawsuit Friday in state court against the Costco store where police shot and killed Scott in 2010.

The lawsuit was filed by attorney Matthew Callister in Clark County District Court on behalf of Scott’s father, William B. Scott, who is administrator of his son’s estate, and his mother, Linda G. Scott. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and general damages of more than $10,000 each in addition to punitive and special damages from the defendants, Costco Wholesale Corp. and Shai Lierley.

Lierley was the store employee who called 911 after Erik Scott had been seen carrying a concealed weapon and was told that Costco had a no firearms policy.

The seven-page complaint alleged the defendants were negligent because they “breached their general duty of care to Erik Scott by grossly and inaccurately describing the Costco situation to Las Vegas Metropolitan Police over the telephone by mis-characterizing the conduct of Erik Scott; misrepresenting Erik Scott’s intentions with his firearm; and falsely accusing Erik Scott of being under the influence of illegal narcotics.”

The lawsuit also alleged that Erik Scott wasn’t told to leave the store or remove his weapon from the store.

“Nowhere in the store were signs posted announcing the no firearms policy nor … was the policy contained in the membership application filled out by Erik,” according to the complaint.

Scott, 38, was a medical device salesman and a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Family members dropped their lawsuit against the Metropolitan Police Department in March because they thought it wasn’t strong enough to withstand the appeals process. In January 2011, Costco and Lierley were dropped as plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit.

Family spokeswoman Lisa Mayo-DeRiso said the Scotts felt “from the very beginning” that Costco’s handling of the situation caused it to escalate.

The latest lawsuit “is an opportunity to find out what set up a deadly situation for Erik Scott,” Mayo-DeRiso said.

Attempts to reach Costco’s attorney for comment were unsuccessful because her Las Vegas office was closed Friday.

Callister said he was approached by the Scott family about two weeks ago and was presented “with an abundance of material that we’ve gone over.”

“I am convinced that large responsibility for this tragedy falls with the employee and how he informed police,” Callister said, adding the 911 caller made it sound “damn near like a hostage situation.”

On July 10, 2010, Scott was shopping with his girlfriend at a Costco store in Summerlin when he drew the attention of store employees. He was tearing open packages of water bottles and seeing whether they would fit in a cooler, employees later testified.

One employee noticed Scott was carrying a gun in his waistband. Scott had a legal permit to carry the weapon when concealed.

The employee told him the store did not allow weapons inside.

When Scott refused to leave, employees called police, setting off a chain of events that would end with Scott’s death.

Police arrived and told an employee to evacuate the Costco. As hundreds of customers were spilling out of the store’s exit, officers Thomas Mendiola, Joshua Stark and William Mosher were waiting outside.

Scott and his girlfriend were among the customers. An employee pointed out Scott to police, and the officers gave him commands to either get down or drop the weapon – testimony and evidence has differed. When Scott turned around, officers fired seven times, striking him seven times.

The lawsuit alleged Scott was “shot several times by Metro Officers who mistook a Blackberry in his hand for a firearm.”

A coroner’s jury heard testimony from dozens of witnesses in September 2010 before deciding that the three officers acted justifiably when they shot Scott.

Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.

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