In a deal with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Walmart has agreed to pay a $190,000 fine because of safety violations at a store in New York. The retailer also will correct similar hazards at Walmart and Sam's Club stores nationwide.
(Photo: Jae C. Hong, AP)
CHERRY HILL, N.J. (USA TODAY) -- Walmart can't be held responsible for a teenager who commandeered an intercom system and ordered black shoppers to leave one of its stores, a federal judge has ruled.
decision terminated a lawsuit brought by Donnell Battie, a black
shopper from Winslow who sought $1 million in damages from the giant
"The court has completely and finally dismissed the suit
without finding any wrongdoing by Walmart," company spokesman Randy
Hargrove said Tuesday.
"We're pleased that we can move forward,"
said Hargrove, who noted Walmart had upgraded its intercom systems in an
effort to prevent future offenses.
An attorney for Battie, however, said a request would be made to reinstate the complaint.
lawsuit asserted Battie was in the Black Horse Pike store in March 2010
when a youth announced over the public-address system: "Attention,
Walmart customers: All black people must leave the store."
lawsuit described the incident as an "imminent terrorist threat" that
caused emotional distress and resulted in "substantial sickness" for
But U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb said the lawsuit
could not hold Walmart "vicariously liable for the offensive speech of
one of its customers."
Among other points, the Camden judge cited a
New Jersey court ruling that "declined to hold a defendant liable for
allegedly discriminatory comments made by an unknown person that was
neither an agent nor an employee."
A 16-year-old from Atlantic
County was charged with harassment and bias intimidation in connection
with that incident and a similar announcement in December 2009.
an Oct. 15 ruling, Bumb rejected Battie's assertion that the earlier
incident should have alerted Walmart to the potential for a repeat
"One or two isolated, random events, no matter how
egregious, are not enough to put a defendant on notice of the potential
risk of harm," her ruling said.
And while Battie's suit pointed to
multiple YouTube videos of intercom pranks at other Walmart stores,
Bumb said it did not show Walmart "was aware of the events portrayed in
the videos or that they were authentic."
The judge's ruling
faulted the lawsuit, prepared by Cherry Hill attorney John Klamo, for
"lack of clarity." It also said the lawyer did not respond to Walmart's
final motion to dismiss the suit.
Klamo said Tuesday that another
attorney who he would not identify is preparing to seek approval for the
Check out some of our most read stories from 2013:
#shortyellows: Florida quietly shortened yellow lights
Terrorism Warning: Memo says terrorists practicing dry-runs on Florida flights
Kittens shot: Officer shoots kittens in front of children
Courtroom apology: Woman apologizes for flipping off judge
Weird ice: Strange, giant circles appear on frozen pond
Controversial Club: College student organizes "White Student Union"
CFO Trouble: School administrative chief in trouble over her porn sex blog
Warning Shot Wife: Mother gets 20 years for firing warning shots at abusive husband
Science Arrest: Teen girl arrested over science project explosion
Wait, WHAT?? Dog shoots man in the leg with a handgun
Popular photo galleries:
Faces of Meth: Devastating before and after photos of meth abusers
Travon Martin Shooting: Trayvon Martin crime scene photos and George Zimmerman injury photos
Hooters Winners: Winners of the 2013 Hooters swimsuit pageant
Rejected: Funny Florida license plates rejected by the DMV ***warning graphic***
Deadly sinkhole: Home collapses, man dies in giant sinkhole
Florida Sex Offenders: Look up sex offenders in any Florida neighborhood here
Restaurant Inspections: Look up inspection reports for any Florida restaurant here