Every Friday after Thanksgiving, stores demonstrate that claims of human evolution may be greatly overstated. From gunshots to smashed doors to stampedes to riots, shopping was again reduced to the lowest common denominator of humanity. The display of conspicuous (and chaotic) consumption is taking place at Walmarts as workers picket for fair wage and treatment outside.
We often discuss the liability issues around these sales in class. As part of the holiday gift-giving to personal injury lawyers, tort and criminal cases sprung up across the country with reports of injuries and attacks. Stores can be liable in such cases, which have resulted in actual fatalities. One of the leading authorities in the area of promotional liability is the Weirum v. RKO decision, holding a radio station liable for injuries caused to a third party when teenagers drove recklessly to find The Real Don Steele in his marked van. The court held that the reckless driving was a foreseeable response of teenagers to the promise of free concert tickets.
What is interesting is the the chaos and televised assaults are viewed as good for marketing — it actually draws more people into stores. The rest of us are left watching and wondering about the future of our species.