A man and his son who were caught in the crowd that stormed the doors of a Long Island Wal-Mart have now filed a lawsuit against the retail chain for injuries they sustained in the Black Friday incident. The stampede of anxious customers took down the Wal-Mart’s doors as employees began to unlock them, killing one 34-year-old employee.
According to a report by CNN, 51-year-old Fritz Mesadieu and 19-year-old Jonathan Mesadieu were “literally carried from their position outside the store” when the Wal-Mart doors came down. Kenneth Mollins, the attorney hired by the men to represent them in the suit, said that the Mesadieus have been suffering from neck and back pain since being caught in the stampede.
Temporary Wal-Mart worker Jdimytai Damour, 34, was crushed to death as he and other employees attempted to unlock the doors of a store on Long Island at 5 a.m. Friday.
Police officials and legal analysts familiar with the incident believe that Wal-Mart should have done more to control the crowd. Beyond hiring some additional employees to manage the holiday crowds, no real safety precautions were taken.
Weeks before the incident, Nassau County police met with management from Wal-Mart and other retailers to brief them on effective crowd-controlling safety measures that could be implemented this holiday season. None of the precautions were implemented. Worse, a video aired on CNN shows the entrance to that Wal-Mart store with a handwritten sign saying “Blitz line starts here,” as if the store were hoping to rev up the shoppers even more before opening the doors.
“This is a tragic situation that could have and should have been avoided with the exercise of reasonable care,” the Mesadieus’ attorney said told CNN.
The men have also filed suit against the Nassau County police department, alleging that they and other witnesses at the scene noticed the police “were there … saw what was happening, and they left.”
Lt. Kevin Smith of the Nassau County Police Department pointed out that it’s the store’s responsibility to provide security. According to Lt. Smith, the police checked on the crowd periodically and at one point organized the customers into a line. Repeated checks gave no indications of a disturbance.
Security video shows about a dozen customers being knocked to the floor during the stampede.