Header graphic for print
The New York Disability Law Blog Information and Help for Disabled Individuals with Workers' Compensation, Social Security Disability and Construction Accident Claims

Walmart Criminally Responsible for “Door-Buster” Sale Worker Death?

Posted in Health Info, Labor News, NY Workers Compensation Claims

Photos courtesy of Newsday

In the wake of yesterday’s Black Friday Walmart tragedyone’s first reaction might be to blame the alleged "savages" who trampled the innocent Walmart worker. However, in reality, it was Walmart’s greed and disregard for it’s own workers’ safety that caused the preventable death of Jdimytai Damour.  New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo should launch an immediate criminal investigation against WalmartThe days of government "looking the other way" while worker safety is ignored must come to an end.

Walmart had a calculated plan to create a shoppers’  "feeding frenzy" between 5 and 11 a.m. yesterday during it’s "blitz", "door-buster" sale.  When it offered incredible deals on "hot toys" such as plasma TV’s to hungry shoppers, it was really doing nothing more than throwing "blood into shark infested waters".  

Just look at the the language Walmart used to create the climate necessary for this horrific event.   For the non-football fans out there, both common usage and the Miriam Webster dictionary define the word "blitz" as a  "sudden attack", which can easily describe the rush of shoppers Walmart anticipated and invited yesterday.  The fact that such sales are known as "door-buster" sales clearly puts Walmart on notice of the imminent danger they were creating, not just for its own employees, but for shoppers alike.  It was only divine intervention that stopped a shopper 8 months pregnant from losing her baby in the same stampede.

Walmart is a smart, highly successful consumer retailer – with a horrible record of mistreatment of employees.  They fully understand the concept of "mob psychology" that caused this preventable death, but willfully chose to ignore the threat to fill it’s own cash registers.  In my opinion, the police do not need to check the store "video-tape" to find the party responsible for this homicide.  Just check the sign outside.

This is no different than when Ford willfully decided not to recall the defective Ford Pinto gas tank  in favor of profits over safety.  Despite Walmart employee requests to close the store after the tragedy, Walmart allowed all important "shopping" to continue. Shame on Walmart for being so callous. The profits from a single store on a single day would not even register on the Walmart (or Wall Street) radar screen.    

Of course, Walmart is protected from a direct lawsuit in this case by the New York State Workers’ Compensation Law. Mr. Damour’s family will receive a measly $6,000 burial allowance under the law.  You can be sure that Walmart’s public relations agency has been working overtime the past 24 hours to minimize any negative publicity due to the death. After all, this is Christmas season – a time of charity and goodwill!

New York  Attorney General Andrew Cuomo should launch an immediate investigation into whether Walmart’s actions ( or failures to act) leading to the death of it’s own worker are criminal.  There is ample legal precedent for such prosecutions. Certainly, even if not criminal,  they further highlight Walmart’s corporate irresponsibility toward the safety of both workers and consumers. The costs associated with a small workers’ compensation claim of a dead worker will be fully absorbed in no more than 1 minute of Walmart shopping at the Valley Stream store.  What say you, Mr. Cuomo?  What say you, Mr. Public?! 

 

  • PBA Freind

    Tell that to DA Kathleen Rice too

  • http://www.employmentlawpost.com/theword John Phillips

    Here’s a post I just did on my blog about this subject. It takes a different point of view.

  • http://www.nydisabilitylaw.com Troy Rosasco

    Thanks John for the different perspective. You make some valid points on why all employers should want to avoid this type of tragedy in the future. I checked out your blog and it is a great resource to the HR community. I will add it to my Google reader. Thanks for posting.
    Troy

  • http://www.employmentlawpost.com John Phillips

    I guess I should have included my post, which I’m now doing:
    http://employmentlawpost.com/theword/2008/12/02/walmart-tragedy-but-what-about-liability/