An Arizona coupe, Lisa and Anthony “A.J.” Demaree, have filed an interesting lawsuit against Walmart (and the state) after being accused of sexual abuse and having their children taken away the State. Their suspected crime? Developing pictures of their children taking a bath.
We have been following these ridiculous cases of parents arrested for taking innocent pictures, here and here. It appears that if you want to develop pictures of your children at Walmart, you need sit them fully dressed at least two feet apart in any given frame.
What makes this lawsuit so interesting is the inclusion of Walmart as a party. I am not sure what this blog would do without Walmart. When Walmart is not destroying Civil War historical areas, it is supplying blogs with a steady supply of abusive corporate conduct here and here and here), crimes committed by employees (here and here and here), or crimes by customers (here and here and here and here and here).
In this case, the Demaree’s three daughters were filmed in the tub. These were a few pictures among 144 pictures taken on vacation in San Diego. Walmart called the police, who promptly took away the children pending an investigation. It appears that no one at Walmart or the police bothered to make an common sense judgment about the pictures before causing the trauma of a removal of the children. Unfortunately, such mindless bureaucratic responses are not unique. It took a month for the couple to force the return of their children.
During this period the children — 1 1/2, 4 and 5 — were housed with strangers and the state.
The lawsuit against the state could do some good in showing prosecutors and police that they cannot cavalierly shatter a family without potential costs and liability. This is particularly important given the refusal of some prosecutors to apologize or to question the decision to pursue parents as in this case. It remains a tough area of litigation, however. The same can be said about suing Walmart. The store knows that it is rare for companies to be held liable for calling police. It is ultimately the police who decide how to proceed on a matter. Yet, the story appears to have a policy or training program that fails to allow any degree of discretion or common sense in such cases.