TMT Development Named in Wrongful Death Suit

TMT hired the private security guard that fatally shot Freddy Nelson Jr.

A lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Multnomah County Circuit Court by the family of Freddy Nelson Jr. alleging wrongful death, negligence, and negligent infliction of emotional distress for his fatal shooting in May. Nelson was killed by Logan Gimbel, a private security guard working at Delta Park, the shopping center where the shooting occurred.

The suit asks for $25 million in damages.

Among the defendants named are Gimbel, three individuals at Cornerstone Security Group, and TMT Development, whose CEO, Vanessa Sturgeon, is an influential and politically-connected Portland businessperson.

Two other corporations that are listed as defendants, including Delta Park, are either owned by Sturgeon or for whom she is the registered agent.

It was due to Vanessa Sturgeon’s own agitated and unsubstantiated allegations of a “combustible” situation surrounding one of Delta Park’s tenants in Spring 2020 which directly resulted in TMT’s hiring of Cornerstone, who employed shooter Logan Gimbel.

At that time, Sturgeon claimed that patrons of the Delta Park BottleDrop — mostly poor people exchanging their bottles for cash — were unruly and overcrowding at the height of Covid restrictions, and that it was “only a matter of time before someone is hurt or killed.” Despite those claims, and despite threatening BottleDrop with eviction based upon them, Sturgeon failed to cite a single verifiable incident of “violence or disturbance.”

Sturgeon then converted her unsupported claims of ‘danger’ into action by hiring Cornerstone, whose employee killed Nelson — thereby actualizing her fever dream of a combustible situation in which someone could be killed.

According to the suit, Cornerstone and TMT “failed to take even the most basic measures to ensure that Cornerstone employees were certified armed private security professionals as required” by Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training rules. The suit also alleges that there was a culture at Cornerstone which “caused [its] employees to glorify violence, ignore possibilities for conflict de-escalation, and disregard human life.”

The suit further alleges that there was “a personal dispute between Freddy Nelson Jr. and an agent of Delta Park and TMT,” after which those defendants “directed the Cornerstone Defendants to harass, follow, and/or intimidate” Nelson “whenever he passed through the” shopping center.

The first claim of the lawsuit, for negligence and wrongful death against TMT and Sturgeon’s other companies, alleges that, “As a direct, proximate, and foreseeable result” of TMT and Delta Park’s negligence and “failure to exercise reasonable care to maintain a reasonable safe property, free of violent crime,” “Freddy Nelson Jr. sustained gunshot injuries and died.”

Tom D’Amore, Esq., the attorney representing Nelson’s family, states,

“Freddy Nelson, Jr.’s death is a direct result of TMT and Cornerstone’s negligence and extremely reckless practices. The complaint explains the defendants’ culture of violence, targeting of the Nelson family, inability to follow the law, and disregard for members of the public. In a larger sense, Nelson’s death sadly fits into the national conversation about excessive force, gun control, and the privatization of police. By way of the family’s wrongful death lawsuit, we hope to not only show the deadly consequences of large corporations flouting the law but also cast light on the worrisome increase in under-regulated and under-trained private security guards.”

Because of Sturgeon’s remarkable ability to escape legal consequences, it will be interesting to see how the suit proceeds in court.

The entire suit may be read here. TMT Development and Vanessa Sturgeon did not return calls requesting comment.