After his daughter Athena Strand, 7, vanished and died last month, her father decided to launch a lawsuit.
On Nov. 30, Athena’s home in Wise County, roughly 30 miles northwest of Fort Worth, was reported gone. Two days after her corpse was discovered, investigators reported that 31-year-old Tanner Horner, a contract FedEx driver, had confessed to abducting and killing Jessica after bringing her a Christmas package.
Jacob Strand accuses FedEx of putting “dangerous persons in a position of trust” even when they are not directly employed by the multinational shipping company in his lawsuit, which was submitted on Tuesday to a Wise County court. It demands damages of more than $1 million.
Horner and Big Topspin, a Dallas-based contractor, are also named in the lawsuit.
FedEx responded in a written statement Wednesday that it was aware of the lawsuit. In the wake of this tragedy, “our sympathies are with the family of Athena Strand,” the statement read.
This was what Tanner Horner was delivering that day. Makes me sick. I really do not have words. #AthenaStrand pic.twitter.com/L587rUrPNe
— Rose (@901Lulu) December 9, 2022
On Wednesday afternoon, a phone line associated with Big Topspin was unplugged. It wasn’t known if Horner had legal representation.
According to an arrest warrant affidavit, Horner admitted to hitting Strand by accident while reversing his delivery van but claimed she wasn’t gravely hurt.
According to the complaint, Horner claimed he panicked, threw the 7-year-old into the van, and then strangled her out of fear that she would inform her father.
Horner is being held in the Wise County jail on $1.5 million bail after being charged with capital murder and aggravated kidnapping.
According to court filings, Big Topspin services a FedEx route Athena’s residence is on, and the van Horner is suspected of carrying the kid in is registered to the company. Horner was given permission to operate a truck bearing the FedEx Ground emblem and wear a FedEx uniform, the lawsuit claims.
According to the lawsuit, FedEx Ground has “substantial control” over Big Topspin, its staff, third-party vendors, and its business activities. It asserts that the businesses failed to adequately investigate Horner’s past before hiring him and failed to oversee him.
It also includes a list of four recent occurrences in which FedEx delivery drivers were allegedly involved in severe crimes while on the job.
Although it is obvious that FedEx’s present efforts, if any, to make sure that they are not placing dangerous people in positions of trust, have persisted, and shipping them to practically every American’s doorstep is woefully insufficient to prevent hurting the public, the lawsuit claims.
Maitlyn Gandy, Athena’s mother, has recruited a legal team to look into the girl’s death.
Benson Varghese, her attorney, claimed that the company has filed three legal-demand letters requesting the preservation of evidence, but he would not say whether or not they intend to bring a case.
Gandy has advocated for more stringent hiring standards for the delivery personnel.
In a statement last week, FedEx stated that “workers of service provider organizations are subject to a criminal history background check as part of the eligibility process, which is typical throughout the industry and considered normal practice.” When questioned about the process used for hiring delivery drivers on Wednesday, the business provided the same response.