Thedecision terminated a lawsuit brought by Donnell Battie, a blackshopper from Winslow who sought $1 million in damages from the giantretailer.
"The court has completely and finally dismissed the suitwithout finding any wrongdoing by Walmart," company spokesman RandyHargrove said Tuesday.
"We're pleased that we can move forward,"said Hargrove, who noted Walmart had upgraded its intercom systems in aneffort to prevent future offenses.
An attorney for Battie, however, said a request would be made to reinstate the complaint.
Thelawsuit asserted Battie was in the Black Horse Pike store in March 2010when a youth announced over the public-address system: "Attention,Walmart customers: All black people must leave the store."
Thelawsuit described the incident as an "imminent terrorist threat" thatcaused emotional distress and resulted in "substantial sickness" forBattie.
But U.S. District Judge Renee Marie Bumb said the lawsuitcould not hold Walmart "vicariously liable for the offensive speech ofone of its customers."
Among other points, the Camden judge cited aNew Jersey court ruling that "declined to hold a defendant liable forallegedly discriminatory comments made by an unknown person that wasneither an agent nor an employee."
A 16-year-old from AtlanticCounty was charged with harassment and bias intimidation in connectionwith that incident and a similar announcement in December 2009.
Inan Oct. 15 ruling, Bumb rejected Battie's assertion that the earlierincident should have alerted Walmart to the potential for a repeatoffense.
"One or two isolated, random events, no matter howegregious, are not enough to put a defendant on notice of the potentialrisk of harm," her ruling said.
And while Battie's suit pointed tomultiple YouTube videos of intercom pranks at other Walmart stores,Bumb said it did not show Walmart "was aware of the events portrayed inthe videos or that they were authentic."
The judge's rulingfaulted the lawsuit, prepared by Cherry Hill attorney John Klamo, for"lack of clarity." It also said the lawyer did not respond to Walmart'sfinal motion to dismiss the suit.
Klamo said Tuesday that anotherattorney who he would not identify is preparing to seek approval for thelawsuit's reinstatement.
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