Wal-Mart has agreed to a settlement amount of nearly $2 million dollars in the “Black Friday” incident that resulted in one death and injury to eleven others in their Nassau, New York store. By doing so they will not face criminal charges that were being sought, and could have only resulted in a $10,000 fine. What does this mean to the survivor’s family and others’ who were injured?
Anyone who chooses to accept the settlement will share in a $400,000 fund to compensate them for any injuries sustained during the incident. If they choose to do so they will waive their right to any further options to sue the world’s largest retailer. Does this mean that Wal-Mart is admitting guilt and/or responsibility in the death? No, it does not. More than likely the family of Jdimytal Damour and Leana Lockley, who have not agreed to settle with this amount, will settle out-of-court for an undisclosed amount to prevent any bad publicity or admission of guilt from the corporate giant.
This action would have been costly to prosecute and defend, so it has saved the taxpayers of New York who knows how much in trial expense. Wal-Mart has “deep pockets” and even if they would have been found guilty of criminal negligence there are loopholes and strategies that could have prevented them from paying a dime. While this may seem outrageous, let’s look at the consequences of this settlement.
People who were legitimately injured are not bound by this settlement and will not lose their rights to pursue civil action against Wal-Mart.
This has opened the public’s eyes to the inherent danger of “mob mentality,” although previously no fatality, in a retail establishment.
This opens the door to negotiations between injured parties without guilt determination or admission of responsibility in a criminal court which has the higher burden of proof to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
This puts ALL retailers on notice that the likelihood is high of a recurrence of this event, and, therefore, preventative measures should be taken.
This also puts the public on notice that they also assume a risk when the likelihood of danger is present.
Does this mean that you should not shop on “Black Friday?” Everyone, retailers and the public, should take notice that there are two sides to this issue. Would you risk your life to buy a big screen TV for dirt cheap? Should retailers have a duty of care to protect the public from unmanageable crowds when they advertise such sales?
What do you think? The door is wide open for debate.