A 75-year-old woman died in August after police said she was violently attacked by a man contracted by Best Buy to deliver a new washer and dryer to her home.
The woman's family on Thursday filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Best Buy and two delivery contractors. The family also plans to fight for legislation that would require extensive and ongoing background checks for in-home service workers.
In a statement to Business Insider, Best Buy said it supports the family's call for new legislation on background checks.
Best Buy is facing a wrongful death lawsuit from the family of a 75-year-old woman who police said was violently attacked during the delivery of a washing machine and dryer.
Evelyn "Evy" Udell of Boca Raton, Florida sustained multiple skull fractures and serious burns over the majority of her body after the attack on August 19, according to the complaint. She died the following day in a hospital.
Police have charged 21-year-old Jorge Luis Dupre Lachazo, one of two workers who delivered the appliances to Udell's home. Lachazo worked for a third-party company contracted by Best Buy. He was supposed to be helping Udell with the new appliances when he hit her in the head with a mallet, doused her in a chemical, and then set her on fire, according to a police affidavit.
The Udell family said Friday during a press conference that the attack could have been prevented through a background check. Lachazo had a suspended license, according to court records. The Palm Beach Public Defender's office, which is representing Lachazo, did not immediately return a request for comment.
"We have filed a lawsuit against Best Buy, JB Hunt and XM Delivery Service to hold them accountable for failing to conduct adequate background checks on the workers they're sending to customers' homes," Nick Panagakis, an attorney for the Udell family, said in a statement on Friday. "The attack on Evy — and others across the country by employees of major, national retail chains — should never have happened."
Family of slain woman calls for new background checks for in-home service workers
The Udell family said it plans to support legislation at the state and local levels that require extensive and ongoing background checks for in-home service workers.
"This type of violence, perpetrated by a home-delivery man, is not an isolated or even uncommon act," said Udell's daughter-in-law, Sloane Udell. "Instead, across our country, the vulnerable have been targeted by those we trust and allow into our homes. We do business with well-known companies under the assumption that we will be safe. Tragically, that is not the case."
In a statement to Business Insider, a Best Buy spokesperson said the company supports the Udell family's call for legislation requiring background checks, and offered to donate to a charity established by the family.
"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 spokesperson said. "Specific to our own practices, background checks have long been required by Best Buy and we are working with those we contract out to ensure that these checks are up-to-date and are done on a re-occurring basis. Additionally, we continue to work with an independent security firm to review the practices of all third parties that we hire to do work on our behalf in customers' homes. "