Suing Wal-Mart

Wednesday on “DaySide”

As always, we'll be on top of the breaking news stories of the day. In addition, we're covering some controversies.

One is a series of threats against a moderate Muslim group here in the U.S. called Muslim Islamic extremists have hacked the group's website, calling them "perverts" and other things for daring to call for peace and tolerance in their religion. Unbelievable. The hackers have issued what they say is their "final warning" to these moderates — to stop criticizing Islamic radicals and shut up about tolerance or else.

On a very different topic, there are two different lawsuits that have been filed against Wal-Mart (search), and I'd like to know whether you think they have merit. One is in Dallas. Here's part of an AP article with a summary of the case:

"Near the end of her short life, Shayla Stewart, a diagnosed manic-depressive and schizophrenic, assaulted police officers and was arrested for attacking a fellow customer at a Denton Wal-Mart where she had a prescription for anti-psychotic medication.

Given all those signs, her parents say, another Wal-Mart just seven miles away should have never sold her the shotgun she used to kill herself at age 24 in 2003. Her mother, Lavern Bracy, is suing the world's biggest store chain for $25 million, saying clerks should have known about her daughter's illness or done more to find out.

The case, filed earlier this month, has reignited a debate over the confidentiality of mental health records and the effectiveness of background checks on would-be buyers of guns. "We know that if they had so much as said, `Why do you want this?' we would not be having this conversation because Shayla would have had a meltdown," said her stepfather, Garrett Bracy.

The Bracys said Wal-Mart's gun department could have checked Wal-Mart's own security files or the pharmacy department's prescription records before selling her the weapon. Wal-Mart spokeswoman Christi Gallagher declined to comment on the lawsuit. But pharmacy prescription records are confidential under a 1996 federal law, so stores cannot use them when deciding whether to sell a gun."

The other lawsuit against Wal-Mart comes from Maryland. Here's a portion of a Christian Science Monitor (search) article about that case:

"Until last month, Melanie and Trevin Skeens regularly relied on Wal-Mart to help them screen music for their two children. They appreciated the store's family-friendly policy of refusing to stock CDs and DVDs that carry parental advisory labels warning about explicit lyrics.

But that policy failed the couple when their 13-year-old daughter bought the CD "Anywhere But Home," by the rock group Evanescence. As they played it in the car on the way home, with their 7-year-old son also listening, they were shocked to hear profanity in the song "Thoughtless." When they asked the store to take the CD off its shelves to protect other families, it refused.

Now the Skeenses, of Brownsville, Md., are suing Wal-Mart. They claim it deceived customers by carrying a CD with obscenities, violating its own promise to stock only clean music. They want the company to remove the music from its Maryland stores or censor the lyrics. The lyrics are already censored on the company's website."

What do you think? Please send your comments to me at:


P.S. For those of you who'd like a running list of all the terrific things we've profiled so far in our special "12 Days of Christmas" series, click here.

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