Published December 03, 2008
The siblings of a worker trampled to death by Wal-Mart shoppers looking for Black Friday bargains have filed a lawsuit against the retailer and the shopping center.
Jdimytai Damour's three sisters and brother filed the wrongful death suit Wednesday, according to their attorney, Jordan Hecht of the Hecht, Kleeger, Pintel and Damashek Law Firm.
"We’re going to be suing Wal-Mart as well as the owner of the mall, the security company, and we’re contemplating an action against the police and the county of Nassau, although we’re waiting to see what our investigation fleshes out about their involvement," Hecht told FOXNews.com Tuesday.
Named in the suit are Wal-Mart, Green Acres Mall in Nassau County, N.Y., Vornado Realty Trust and Securitas Security Services USA.
Damour, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound temporary worker, was asphyxiated at the Wal-Mart in Valley Stream, N.Y., Friday morning while trying to shield a pregnant shopper from the throngs of bargain hunters pushing their way in.
The suit was filed in New York Supreme Court in the Bronx on behalf of Elsie Damour Phillipe, one of Damour's sisters who is the administrator of the dead man's estate.
It alleges that Damour's death resulted from "the carelessness, recklessness, wanton disregard for public safety and gross negligence of the defendants ... in the staging, conducting and advertising for sales events."
Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey told FOX News on Monday that investigators were scanning surveillance tape in an effort to identify individual shoppers involved in the melee.
"We are reviewing film ... from individual cell phones, from cameras that are in place in the store, trying to identify, if in fact we can identify, people that are culpable in this," Mulvey said. "And it is difficult because a lot of people in the front of the line were pushed forward, and it’s difficult for us to decipher who is more responsible in all of this."
But Hecht said the retailer should have been prepared for the crowds when it offered sale items that included a Samsung 50-inch Plasma HDTV for $798, a Bissel Compact Upright Vacuum for $28, a Samsung 10.2 megapixel digital camera for $69 and DVDs such as "The Incredible Hulk" for $9.
"This is something that as a retailer you need to know about," Hecht said. "You need to forsee and should forsee, and I don’t think that it takes anyone with special training to understand that this is going to happen."
Hecht said Damour's death could have been "easily preventable."
"There’s hundreds of other retailers that have done these types of promotions," he said. "Remember when the iPhone first came out? How many hundreds of people were on line there? You got a card, stood in line, single file, no problem. There are many different things available to Wal-Mart, none of which were used."
Funeral arrangements for Damour, 34, are in the works, but will be kept under wraps to protect the family's privacy.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc., in a statement Friday, called the incident a "tragic situation" and said it had tried to prepare for the crowd by adding staffers and outside security workers, putting up barricades and consulting police.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.