December 1, 2008

Trampled Wal-Mart Employee Didn’t Receive Proper Training, Attorney Says

By Jonathan Damashek

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After a Wal-Mart worker was trampled to death, one attorney claims that the accident could have been prevented if the man had been properly trained in crowd control. Additionally, police and the attorney believe that the man was placed at the front of the store because of his large stature. Police learned that the man was killed by a stampede of Black Friday shoppers after watching a surveillance video of the incident. Lawyers are preparing to file lawsuits.

The Nassau County Police Commissioner said that the Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death when a crowd of 2,000 shoppers broke down the store’s electronic doors in a desperate attempt to purchase clothing, big-screen TVs and other items at bargain prices. “Literally anyone, those hundreds o people who did make their way into the store, literally had to step over or around him or unfortunately on him to get into the Wal-Mart store,” said the Commissioner.

Although the man died from injuries related to the incident, the Commissioner says that it will be difficult to file criminal accusations against any of them. Why? “It goes beyond identifying specific people to make a case,” he said, “You have to establish recklessness or intent to harm, which led to his death.” The man’s family will be represented by Jordan Hecht, a partner at Hecht Kleeger & Damashek, P.C. The family has not made any public statements about the man’s death.

According to Attorney Hecht, the employee has only worked at the store for a number of weeks. After being hired through an employment agency, he didn’t receive any security training and had no experience working in crowd control. Wal-Mart, Inc., claims that the store attempted to control the crow by providing outside security and placing barricades and consulting police. “Despite all of our precautions, this unfortunate even occurred,” said the senior Vice President of Wal-Mart.

Two other workers filed a notice of claim and Attorney Hecht said that he was considering a lawsuit. Four other people were treated at hospitals because of the stampede, including a pregnant woman. Even though the details of the situation remain obscure, the Commissioner believes that the store failed to provide enough security. “In fact,” he said, “security was inside the store and not outside organizing, arranging and planning for this anticipated opening.”

The National Retail Federation believes that this case is unique and that no other store workers have been killed by crowds after Thanksgiving before. According to the managing director of strategic Resources Group (a retail consulting firm), retailers know that they can attract substantial crowds when the promise customers limited-time and limited-quantity savings. “There are so many retailers doing it the right way, it seems senseless there wasn’t strategic and operational planning here,” he said.