Family of Murder Victim Sues Best Buy, Delivery Companies For Poor Background Check Practices
Evelyn Udell was allegedly killed by a deliveryman employed by a Best Buy contractor. Her family says her death could have been prevented by better background checks.
- By Haley Samsel
- Oct 01, 2019
After a 75-year-old grandmother was murdered in her home during a Best Buy delivery, her family has filed a lawsuit accusing the company and two other third-party contractors of not conducting thorough enough background checks, among other issues.
During the delivery of her new washing machine and dryer on Aug. 19, Evelyn Udell was allegedly struck by a mallet and set on fire by Jorge Luis Depre Lachazo, a worker who was answering her questions about the appliances. A fellow deliveryman was outside taking a call when he heard the incident taking place and ran inside.
Lachazo, who admitted to police that he struck Udell with the mallet and took drugs earlier in the day, has been charged with murder without premeditation, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon on a person over the age of 65 and arson.
Now, Udell’s family is suing Best Buy and two of its third-party service providers for not properly investigating their employees and disclosing to customers that the delivery people entering their homes are not employed by Best Buy. Lachazo was employed by X.M. Delivery Service Inc., a subcontractor to J.B. Hunt Transport Inc., the company that was contracted by Best Buy for delivery services.
In announcing the wrongful death lawsuit on Thursday, the family of Udell said that her murder could have been prevented had Lachazo been disqualified from employment due to previous charges. While it has not been confirmed that Lachazo has a criminal record, the Udell family claims he had a suspended driver’s license and had been arrested for stealing a cell phone, according to CNN.
"The attack on Evy — and others across the country by employees of major, national retail chains — should never have happened," Nick Panagakis, the family’s attorney, told CNN. "We are alleging that this was totally preventable if Best Buy, a Fortune 100 corporation, and JB Hunt, a Fortune 500 corporation, had merely done readily available and affordable daily criminal and driving background checks, that have been available in the industry for at least five years."
The family is also supporting legislation on the state and local levels to require “extensive and ongoing background checks” for in-home service workers, said Sloane Udell, Evelyn’s daughter-in-law.
“And we will be pursuing the corporations whose negligence resulted in her death, to put an end to the systemic failure that allowed this to happen and in the hope that this never happens to another wife, mother, grandmother or sister again," Sloane Udell said in a statement on behalf of the family.
In response to the suit, Best Buy said it has been conducting regular background checks for several years. The company is now working with contractors to “ensure that these checks are up-to-date and are done on a re-occurring basis,” spokesman Keegan Shoutz told CNN.
Best Buy also expressed its support for Udell’s family and said it would donate to a trust set up in her honor if the family would allow it.
"We join with the Udell family in calling for legislation regarding mandatory background checks across the retail industry and any other reasonable steps that can be taken to ensure this kind of tragedy does not occur again,” the statement said.
In her statement, Sloane Udell said that the “unspeakable terror and pain” in her mother-in-law’s final moments is what is driving them to prevent more attacks involving in-home service workers.
“We do business with well-known companies under the assumption that we will be safe," she said. "Tragically, that is not the case."