The family of a security guard crushed to death in a Black Friday stampede at a Long Island Wal-Mart sued the retailer Wednesday, accusing the store of using marketing techniques that created the “frenzy” leading to his death.
The complaint, filed in New York Supreme Court in the Bronx by Jdimytai Damour’s sister, Elsie Damour Phillipe, who lives in the Bronx, also alleged that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and its co-defendants failed to provide adequate security and safety measures. The other defendants are Green Acres Mall and its owner, Vornado Realty Trust, and Securitas Services USA Inc.
The complaint said Wal-Mart “created an atmosphere of competition and anxiety amongst the crowd that caused the crowd to surge and enter into a crowd craze and…engaged in specific marketing and advertising techniques to specifically attract a large crowd and create an environment of frenzy and mayhem and was otherwise careless, reckless and negligent.”
Damour, 34, was working at the entrance of the Valley Stream, N.Y., Wal-Mart, which is part of the Green Acres complex. When the doors opened about 5 a.m. an estimated 2,000 shoppers, some of whom had been in line since 9 p.m. the night before, rushed inside for Black Friday discounts. The shoppers overwhelmed the 270-pound Damour, who had recently started at the store as an independent contractor.
A preliminary report from the Nassau County medical examiner released earlier this week revealed that Damour died of asphyxiation.
Phillipe, who filed the complaint as the administrator of her brother’s estate, is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
The Nassau County Police Department is reviewing store video and the actions of the crowd, and Wal-Mart’s protective measures are under investigation.
“We consider Mr. Damour part of the Wal-Mart family, and are saddened by his death,” said Hank Mullany, president of the Northeast division of Wal-Mart U.S. “We have been in communication with members of his family to do what we can to help them through this difficult time.”
Mullany said Wal-Mart is working with law enforcement officials to “implement even stronger safety measures.”
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