The mother of Anna Lynn Jones, an 18-year-old high school grad and freshman-to-be at the University of West Georgia who was fatally shot in a parked car last summer, has filed a lawsuit against the former professor charged as the gunman.
Jessica Maxwell, as administrator of her daughter’s estate, filed the civil lawsuit in Carroll County Superior Court against Richard Edward Sigman, 48, a since-fired professor at the university Anna Jones was going to attend.
According to the Carrollton Police Department, Sigman got into an argument with a man at the pizza place and threatened to shoot him. The man who was threatened told security at the establishment and Sigman was told he was no longer welcome at the bar.
“Security approached Sigman, saw he had a weapon, and told him to leave,” cops said. “Sigman then left walking toward the parking deck.”
Anna Jones was subsequently shot after midnight on July 30, 2022, in the parking deck near Adamson Square, cops said.
“The investigation then indicates Sigman walked into the parking deck and began shooting into a parked vehicle striking the victim,” according to police. “Friends immediately drove her to the hospital where she was pronounced deceased.”
The suit was also filed against Leopoldo’s Pizza Napoletana and its owner Federico Leopoldo Gimenez, alleging that the bar/restaurant where Sigman was “drinking, behaving aggressively, and threaten[ing] to shoot another patron before killing Anna,” was negligent in how it responded before the “senseless and easily preventable killing.”
“In undertaking to address and mitigate the armed, belligerent, aggressive, and intoxicated Sigman, the Bar Defendants had the duty to exercise reasonable care in that undertaking, and are liable for injuries to Anna Jones resulting from their negligent failure to exercise reasonable care in performing the undertaking,” the lawsuit said, calling the alleged negligence a “direct and proximate cause” of Jones’ death.
The lawsuit claimed that the bar failed to foster a safe environment, failed to “warn others of the dangerous character of Sigman despite knowledge of the volatile situation commencing,” failed to sufficiently train employees and hire “adequate security personnel,” and “breached their duty to exercise ordinary care to guard against injury from dangerous characters like Sigman.”
The civil filing said that the bar made Sigman leave while drunk, angry, and armed rather than calling the police, leading to Jones’ death:
When Leopoldo’s Pizza security approached a clearly intoxicated Sigman, they were aware that he had a weapon. Instead of calling the police as the situation warranted, retaining Sigman inside the bar, disarming him, or otherwise taking reasonable measures to control him or to mitigate or de-escalate the situation, security forced Sigman to leave the bar while armed, dangerous, agitated and intoxicated. At no time prior to getting Sigman to leave, during the process of Sigman leaving, or after Sigman left, did any employee or agent of Leopoldo’s Pizza contact law enforcement to advise them that Sigman was intoxicated, armed, had threatened to shoot another bar patron, and was heading out of the bar.
Belligerent and drunk, Sigman left Leopoldo’s Pizza, walked approximately 200 steps to a nearby parking garage adjacent to Adamson Square on Harris Street used by patrons of Leopoldo’s and where his car was parked, pulled out his Glock 43 9mm handgun, and began shooting, striking a parked car inside the garage.
The suit claims the bar knew prior to and on the day of the shooting that “frequent customer” Sigman “was a belligerent drunk who liked to pick fights with others.”
Jim Myers, an attorney for Maxwell, said in a statement that the bar shirked its responsibility to have “adequate security” to protect patrons and the surrounding public.
“The state of Georgia grants bar owners the privilege to profit from alcohol sales, but that comes with the responsibility to provide adequate security to keep people safe in and around their establishments, and in Anna’s case, the owners of Leopoldo’s Pizza failed to live up to their responsibilities,” Myers said. “Anna was days away from starting college and pursuing her dream of becoming a nurse, instead, her life was tragically cut short by the actions of an armed drunk and a negligent establishment.”
Anna Jones’ mother said much the same.
“An 18-year-old girl who just graduated high school lost her life because of one drunken man and one irresponsible establishment,” she said in a statement.
Plaintiff Maxwell seeks a jury trial, punitive damages against Sigman, and that “all costs be assessed against the Defendants.”
Law&Crime reached out to Leopoldo’s Pizza for comment.
After Jones’ death, Mount Zion High School released a heartbroken statement, saying: “Anna loved this school and this community and she will be missed dearly by many. Please keep her family and friends in your thoughts and prayers as they go through this difficult time.”
Sigman was fired after his arrest, the University of West Georgia confirmed.
“UWG has terminated the employment of Richard Sigman and continues to work with the city of Carrollton Police Department, which leads this ongoing investigation. On behalf of the university, we wish to convey our deepest condolences to Anna’s family and many friends,” Dr. Brendan Kelly, UWG’s president, said at the time. “We know this news is difficult to process and affects many members of our university community. We ask that you keep Anna’s family, friends, and all who have been touched by this tragedy in your thoughts during this tremendously difficult time.”
Court records reviewed by Law&Crime show that Sigman is charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault (three counts), and possession of a firearm or knife during the commission of or attempt to commit certain felonies (three counts).
The most recent docket activity came from Sigman’s defense lawyer Jason Black on Wednesday. Two motions were filed, one for a psychological evaluation and the other for a medical evaluation.
On Aug. 11, a judge ordered a mental evaluation for Sigman regarding his criminal responsibility, writing that the “mental competency of this Defendant has been called into question.”
Motions for the evaluations followed on Sept. 6.
“Movant’s counsel needs expert assistance concerning the evaluation of Defendant/Movant concerning Defendant’s mental status, the determination of which involves psychological factors beyond the training and skill of laymen, and beyond the training and skill of Defendant/Movant’s counsel,” said one filing from attorney Black.
The filing asked that Dr. Matthew W. Norman be allowed to perform a psych eval when visiting Sigman on Sept. 29 at the Carroll County Detention Facility.
The separate motion for a medical evaluation asked that Sigman be transported outside the jail facility on Sept. 20 to see Dr. Barry McCasland — a stroke specialist — and, after that visit, to undergo an MRI at American Health Imaging of Sandy Springs.
Sigman’s lawyer said the purpose of the foregoing is to find out whether his client “has suffered from a stroke.”
Read the civil lawsuit, filed on Aug. 10, here.
Alberto Luperon contributed to this report.
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