Monday, August 3, 2009

Wal-Mart Settles “Black Friday” Wrongful Death Suit

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. agreed to improve its future post-Thanksgiving Day crowd control as a condition of avoiding criminal prosecution in the fatal stampede of frenzied holiday shoppers at a Long Island store last opening Christmas shopping weekend.

In a settlement made public with the district attorney of New York's Nassau County and the world's largest retailer also agreed to set up a $400,000 victims' compensation fund, donate $1.5 million to the community and provide 50 jobs annually to high school students in the area.

The deal came as a result of the DA's investigation into the death of a 34-year-old security guard, Jdimytai Damour, who was knocked to the ground and trampled to death in the early morning hours on the Friday after Thanksgiving, as shoppers stormed a Wal-Mart looking for those “rolled back” prices.

The retailer did not admit guilt or wrongdoing in its settlement with DA Kathleen Rice. It did agree to have independent safety experts review its crowd management plans for post-Thanksgiving events at all 92 of its New York-area stores.

Did Wal-Mart create mayhem?

That's what the family of 34-year old Jdimytai Damour of New York is alleging. Damour, a 6 foot 5 inch, 270 pound man, was hired by Wal-Mart a week before the store's day-after-Thanksgiving sale - commonly referred to as Black Friday where stores open before dawn and offer deep discounts to holiday shoppers. According to news reports, Damour was placed in front of the entrance to the store due to his size. However, when the store didn't open on time, the crowd of 2,000 waiting shoppers broke down the doors and trampled Damour. He died shortly after the incident.

His family has filed a lawsuit against Wal-Mart alleging that the retailer "engaged in specific marketing and advertising techniques to specifically attract a large crowd and create an environment of frenzy and mayhem and was otherwise careless, reckless and negligent." They are also suing Green Acres Mall, the complex where the store is located, about 20 minutes from New York City under similar theories of recovery.

Aspects of a wrongful death case

A wrongful death case alleges that a person was killed as the result of another's negligence or other form of liability. Each state has its own wrongful death statute, but most wrongful death claims consist of these four aspects, 1) that the death was caused by the defendant's conduct in whole or in part, 2) that the defendant was negligently or strictly liable for the person's death, 3) that the person is survived by a spouse, children or other dependents or beneficiaries and 4) that monetary damages resulted from the person's death

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