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Oakland Personal Injury Lawyer / Blog / Personal Injury / Family Sues After Workplace Rampage at Mushroom Farm

Family Sues After Workplace Rampage at Mushroom Farm


Two California mushroom farmers had just finished their shifts and were relaxing in their shared trailer when one of their coworkers burst through the door and shot them both. One was killed and the other was seriously injured. Now, the family of the slain mushroom farmer has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against his employer while the injured worker has filed a personal injury lawsuit of his own. Both plaintiffs allege that the owner failed to respond to previous violent incidents and take steps that could have avoided the shooting.

The two plaintiffs were the first shot by gunman Chunli Zhao who carried out the rampage on January 23, 2023. Authorities say that Zhao killed four farmworkers before driving three miles south to his previous employer where he shot and killed another three workers. Zhao’s rampage was apparently inspired when his supervisor served him with a $100 repair bill for a forklift.

The 67-year-old Zhao was charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

The case against the farmer’s owner 

The lawsuits allege that the farm and its owner could have prevented the tragedy from ever occurring, but they failed to adequately secure the premises against “reasonably foreseeable criminal acts.”

The plaintiffs allege that the mushroom farmers lived in “deplorable” living conditions at the defendant’s farm. They were made to sleep in trailers with plywood floors and heated their food on makeshift wood-burning stoves.

The lawsuit alleges that the owner took no action to secure the farm even after there was a shooting at the farm a few months earlier. The lawsuit also contends that the owner knew about Zhao’s violent history and made no effort to secure the premises from him.

The previous shooting occurred in July 2022. The farm’s former manager, Martin Medina, was accused of breaking into one farmworker’s trailer and threatening to kill the man and his family. Medina fired one shot with a handgun that went through the trailer and into another occupied trailer. No injuries were reported in that case. The owner did not hire security to safeguard the premises after this incident.

In addition, in 2013, one of Zhao’s roommates filed a civil harassment restraining order against him after he alleged that Zhao tried to smother him to death with a pillow and threatened to use a knife to split open his head.

The plaintiffs contend that the owner had the means and ability to protect his workers Zhao, but failed to take any action. This, in turn, led to the rampage that claimed the lives of 4 workers on the farm. The plaintiffs maintain that the owner should have hired security after the first incident with Medina and been proactive about ensuring that Zhao did not have access to the farm.

Talk to an Oakland Personal Injury Lawyer Today 

The Oakland personal injury attorneys at Venardi Zurada represent the interests of plaintiffs in lawsuits filed against negligent defendants. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin discussing your case right away.



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