DALLAS — The father of the late 7-year-old Athena Strand filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the suspect in her killing, as well as FedEx and the Dallas-based contractor that hired the suspect, according to court documents.
The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Wise County District Court. Strand's father is seeking over $1,000,000 in damages and a trial by jury, according to the lawsuit.
Arrest affidavits obtained by WFAA stated that Tanner Horner confessed to abducting and killing 7-year-old Athena Strand after he accidentally hit her with the van he was driving while backing up after dropping off a package, which turned out to be Strand's Christmas presents.
Strand's father is suing Horner, FedEx and Big Topspin, Inc., the contractor used to hire Horner, the lawsuit said. The lawsuit accuses the companies of negligence in their hiring of Horner and says they failed to implement safety policies and procedures. According to the Wise County court coordinator, Bill Ray has been appointed as Horner's attorney by the court.
WFAA located the Dallas-based contractor on Saturday, Dec. 10, but would not comment on Horner's hiring.
Across the country, FedEx relies on its 6,000 contractors that provide package pickup and delivery services using their employees.
Per a FedEx spokesperson, "The employees of these service provider companies are subject to criminal history background checks as part of the driver eligibility process. As is common across the industry and considered standard employment practice, the background check process is administered by a third party."
Horner has no known criminal history, and FedEx didn't elaborate when asked questions about his employment.
Last week, WFAA reached out to the shipping giant and asked how long Horner had been contracted to work with FedEx, when he began driving for the company, how many drivers are contracted through Big Topspin, and what FedEx's prescribed hiring protocols are for Big Topspin.
The spokesperson replied, "Service provider companies utilize their own employees, vehicles, and equipment. As such, we are not at liberty to discuss details of personnel employed by service providers."
When asked about the lawsuit, a FedEx spokesperson said it was aware of the lawsuit.
"Our thoughts remain with the family of Athena Strand in the wake of this tragedy. We are aware of the complaint filed against FedEx Ground."
Strand was laid to rest on Friday, Dec. 9; she was cremated and had her ashes put into an urn, her mother told WFAA.
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