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An Atlanta judge has dismissed all but two defendants from suits brought by victims of day-trader Mark O. Barton’s 1999 murderous rampage. Judge Susan B. Forsling granted summary judgment to the owners, building managers and the security company for the two Buckhead, Ga., buildings where nine were killed July 29, 1999. Left as defendants, for now, are two day-trading companies: All-Tech Investment Group and Momentum Securities. Barton, a disturbed day trader facing financial ruin after losses of nearly $500,000, shot and killed nine people in the offices of those two firms and wounded numerous others. Earlier, Barton had killed his wife and two children. After the Buckhead office killings, he put a gun to his head and took his own life as police closed in on his minivan in Acworth. Thirteen suits were filed in the wake of the shootings. Forsling, ruling from the bench during a day-long Nov. 30 hearing, dismissed most of the defendants on summary judgment. But she asked lawyers for the plaintiffs and the two day-trading companies to submit briefs to her next week. Plaintiffs have argued that All-Tech and Momentum should be held liable because, based on the addictive and volatile nature of the day-trading business, it was foreseeable that a client like Barton would lose heavily, become emotionally unstable and commit acts of violence. The defendants have countered that no one could have foreseen the shootings, the first such violence to occur in the day-trading industry. Forsling asked both sides to address the issue of foreseeability, specifically, what evidence existed in the record to show that financial loss leads to violence. She also wanted to know whether direct testimony on foreseeability was necessary to survive summary judgment or if foreseeability was a matter of common knowledge or common sense, to be left for a jury’s determination. Survivors of the shootings and family members of those killed attended the hearing. Absent, however, was one plaintiff: Volkard Fred Herder, 57, of Augusta, Ga. Herder, who survived a gunshot wound to the back from Barton, took his own life the day before the court hearing. Plaintiffs’ lawyer Jan P. Cohen of Weinstock & Scavo says his client was a day trader who had lost all his money. “He was a man who could not stop day trading. He knew he should and he couldn’t do it,” Cohen says. “It’s a very sad story. And it is consistent with what we’ve been saying all along” about the nature of the day-trading business.

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