Monday, December 8, 2008

Catching the ambulance

It took only a couple of days for the family of Jdimytai Damour, the famously trampled Wal-Mart worker from New York, to file a wrongful-death lawsuit against the retailing behemoth. The suit claims that Wal-Mart failed to provide sufficient security to handle the mob of Black Friday shoppers who descended on the Long Island store where Damour worked and literally was crushed to death by bargain-thirsty customers. But the suit also contends that store ads touting deep discounts "created an atmosphere of competition and anxiety" that led to "crowd craze." The suit says the store "engaged in specific marketing and advertising techniques to specifically attract a large crowd and create an environment of frenzy and mayhem." Now, I think it's fine to argue that security and crowd-control measures were lacking, but I think it's a bit much to chastise a business for trying to attract shoppers. Isn't that their raison d'etre? Whatever the case, I'm sure Mr. Damour's relatives will be financially comfortable for life when this is all over.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm betting this never goes to trial. I'm sure the Wal-Mart lawyers in Arkansas are going to offer a hefty settlement long before it gets to that point.

December 8, 2008 at 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wal-Mart has a national policy of never settling a law suit. Fight until the bitter end. (USA Today did a story about three years about it) so unless that has changed, no settlement.

December 9, 2008 at 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been caught in "crowd surge" at a rock concert -- it's not fun, and my girlfriend almost lost her head, literally, when she became stuck between a door frame and the moving mass of people. One of my friends was the promoter at the 1979 Cincinnati Who concert where 11 people were killed and dozens more trampled. And this type of behavior is call too commonplace among European soccer crowds. So there is ample proof of a herd instinct in humans.

So I have to place the bulk of the blame in this case on people who put a premium on large-screen TVs over humanity. It's just one more sign of how warped our priorities have become. Millions out of work, the economy the worst it has been in 70 years, and people still think the key to happiness is to have a 50-inch flatscreen TV.

Stores must promote themselves, without doubt. That said, Wal-Mart should have had better security. But, THAT said, employees should have been smart enough to stand back from the doors. And shoppers should have known better, period.

Really, folks, how much better are you going to feel with that 50-inch TV? How many mouths could you have fed with that $800?

Sadly, we won't learn a thing from this. Were I St. Peter, I'd stand well back from the Pearly Gates on Judgment Day.

December 9, 2008 at 9:35 AM  

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