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Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney > Blog > Personal Injury > Family Sues After Black Man Is Shot At Walmart

Family Sues After Black Man Is Shot At Walmart


This case has been bouncing around the dockets for a decade now, but the allegations are highly relevant. According to the suit, a woman called police on a Black man who she claimed was “waving a rifle around”. Police shot the man to death. He was holding a pellet gun that was readily available in the store. After police shot the man to death, another customer suffered a fatal heart attack. The woman was attempting to run away from the gunfire when she collapsed.

Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell what liability Walmart contributed to this situation. However, the family claims that Walmart should have intervened when they saw the man carrying an unpackaged pellet rifle through the store. It’s not necessarily apparent that Walmart would have realized the gun was theirs.

The lawsuit against police officers involved in the shooting was settled for $1.7 million. As part of the settlement, the local police department vowed to make changes to its use-of-force policy. The case against Walmart survives.

Why has the Walmart case survived? 

The case was initially dismissed on the basis that the plaintiffs failed to state an actual claim. However, the decision was overturned on appeal when the appellate court ruled that a reasonable jury could find Walmart liable for allowing a customer to carry an AR-15 look-alike pellet gun through their store in the current political environment.

Further complicating matters, one of the appellate court judges owned stock in Walmart but rendered a decision on the case forcing the appeal to be vacated. This is despite the fact that the judge voted in favor of the lawsuit proceeding. The conflict of interest was enough to vacate the appeal and place the suit in limbo once again.

Will the plaintiffs win? 

It’s hard to say because this case is very odd. A jury may decide the matter in favor of the plaintiff or they may decide the plaintiff recovered enough money already and Walmart is not a legitimate defendant in this manner. Sometimes, things go according to the law, but in tort cases, working the jury’s feelings sometimes results in extra-legal decisions. Civil defense lawyers know this and tend to offer settlements even in cases where the hopes are dim. The settlements may not be very high, but they’re better than nothing and in some cases, it saves Walmart money in litigation. The plaintiffs can claim that leaving the pellet gun out placed the customer in danger of frightening other customers. That is a fair argument, but if the customer lacked the sense not to carry the gun through Walmart, why expect Walmart to have that sense either? Ultimately, someone should have noticed the gun and placed it elsewhere. That didn’t happen and a man died.

The police and the customer were primarily responsible for this incident and both of those have been held accountable. But you can never predict the outcome of a case.

Talk to a Jacksonville Personal Injury Lawyer Today 

If you have been injured at Walmart, call the Jacksonville personal injury lawyers at Gillette Law today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.



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