The family of a worker trampled to death in a crush of bargain hunters Friday at a Long Island Wal-Mart store filed a wrongful-death lawsuit Wednesday, alleging store ads offering deep discounts “created an atmosphere of competition and anxiety” that led to “crowd craze.”
The lawsuit alleges that besides failing to provide adequate security for a predawn crowd estimated at 2,000, Wal-Mart “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.”
Wal-Mart issued a statement saying it would cooperate with local law enforcement officials to develop stronger safety measures for the future.
“We consider Mr. Damour part of the Wal-Mart family and are saddened by his death,” the statement said. “We have been in communication with members of his family to do what we can to help them through this difficult time. Our associates know that when incidents like this occur, we take care of our own.”
In addition to the retailer, the adjacent Green Acres Mall, a realty company that manages the property and a security company hired to patrol the property were named as defendants. A spokeswoman for the realty company declined to comment on pending litigation; none of the other defendants immediately responded to phone and e-mail inquiries.
Jdimytai Damour, 34, had been hired by an employment agency as a temporary worker at the store in Valley Stream and had been on the job about a week when he died, said his family’s lawyer, Jordan Hecht.
The 6-foot-5, 270-pound Damour died of asphyxiation after being crushed early Friday morning by the crowd, which broke down the store’s doors in frantic pursuit of bargains. At least four other people were treated at hospitals, including a woman who was eight months pregnant.
Authorities suspect that, because of his size, Damour was stationed at the entrance of the store to assist with crowd control.
“Those hundreds of people who did make their way into the store, literally had to step over or around him or unfortunately on him to get in,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Lawrence Mulvey said.
Police are reviewing store video to identify possible suspects in the death, but Mulvey conceded criminal charges were unlikely.