Blog Network

About The Bloggers


Inadequate Security and Marketing Blamed for Wal-Mart Black Friday Trampling

Not surprisingly, the family of the man killed in a stampede of shoppers at Wal-Mart on the day after Thanksgiving filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc., reports Reuters. What is surprising, or even troubling to some, is the speed with which the suit was filed -- not even a week after the incident -- as well as the claims seeking to impose liability on marketers who are blamed for devising a campaign that helped give rise to the frenzied environment.

Maryland personal injury lawyer Ron Miller has some doubts over the rush to sue. Because Wal-Mart is still investigating the claims and facts are still emerging, Miller believes that the plaintiffs' attorneys could suffer a loss of credibility if jurors realize that they filed suit without knowing more facts. In addition, by filing early, the plaintiffs' lawyers may have lost the leverage that can come from mere threat of suit. Miller concludes: "[T]hese '5 minute after' lawsuits don't help the clients and also don't help the general public perception of personal injury lawyers or their clients."

Of course, there's no harm in being the first blogger to speculate on the possibility of a lawsuit, which New York personal injury attorney Eric Turkewitz did here. Today, he has a follow-up post, pointing out that Wal-Mart's security was most likely inadequate, and also noting that had the Wal-Mart worker been a store employee rather than an independent contractor (which he was), New York workers' compensation law would have barred the suit.

As Turkewitz suggests, customers always have a reasonable expectation of adequate security -- but was the chaos heightened in this case because of marketing? Advertising Age explains that the lawsuit blames the ads for creating a frenzied atmosphere, but to me, the ads also reinforce security expectations. This television ad posted at Gawker depicts Wal-Mart's preparation for holiday shopping, assuring listeners that the store will open extra lanes. Whatever the impact of the ads, marketers need to follow the case closely, recommends Law And More, because it could potentially morph into a landmark case on marketing liability.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on December 4, 2008 at 11:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)


About ALM  |  About  |  Customer Support  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms & Conditions