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Wal-Mart Spares No Expense Fighting Trampling Case OSHA Fine

WM The pride of Bentonville, Ark., is taking "It's not the money, it's the principle" to impressive heights. The New York Times reported last night on Wal-Mart's crusade to avoid payment of a $7,000 fine imposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration arising out of a deadly stampede at a Valley Stream, N.Y., store on Black Friday in 2008.

By the NYT's account, Wal-Mart has spent over $2 million in legal fees fighting the fine. The company had previously entered into a settlement with Nassau County authorities to avoid criminal charges, at a cost of almost $2 million. But the OSHA fine, company officials fear, would set a dangerous precedent, making retailers responsible for unruly crowds as an occupational hazard. So, somewhere in the company's annual report, I'm sure you can find some small-print disclosure to shareholders that this is how their money is being spent.

It's not just Wal-Mart stockholders who are paying, however. There has been so much legal wrangling over this relatively paltry fine that OSHA lawyers -- funded by your taxpayer dollars -- have devoted 4,725 hours to the matter. And they have no incentive to pad bills.

An OSHA appeals panel will be hearing Wal-Mart's appeal today.

See the WSJ Law Blog for more on Wal-Mart's fight.

Posted by Eric Lipman on July 7, 2010 at 10:07 AM | Permalink | Comments (7)

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