Alleged Shoplifter Dies After Struggle With Security and Staff At Georgia Walmart

In torts class, we often discuss the limitations placed on the protection of property under the common law. While many states have passed controversial Castle Doctrines or “Make My Day” laws and others have extended such privilege to use lethal force to cars or workplaces (under Make My Day Better laws), the common law does not allow people to use force calculated to cause serious bodily injury or death in defense of property. Many stores instruct employees not to use physical force with shoplifters for that reason or to try to stop armed robberies (including cases where stores have fired such heroes). It appears that a security officer is out of job after a scuffle with an alleged shoplifter caused the middle-aged suspect to have a heart attack and die outside of a Walmart.

Walmart employees and a security guard confronted the man in the store parking lot who reportedly shoplifted two DVD players. When the police arrived in Dekalb County, Georgia, they found the man was unresponsive and bleeding from the nose and mouth.

One of the employees had reportedly placed the man in a choke hold.

Walmart appears to have fired the security officer and put two employees on paid leave. Dianna Gee, a Walmart spokeswoman, said “[n]o amount of merchandise is worth someone’s life. Associates are trained to disengage from situations that would put themselves or others at risk.”

That is the view of the common law. However, the common law allows one to grab someone stealing property and try to retrieve it. If the person then resists, the case can change from defense of property to defense of self. Self-defense and defense of others have far greater ranges in the level of permissible violence. Indeed, you can use lethal force if you reasonably fear for your life. In this case, the employees could argue that they use commensurate levels of force not in the protection of property but in the protection of themselves or others.

With the level of violence or insanity during Black Friday sales, it is surprising that more such incidents do not occur. However, it is usually the customer-on-customer violence that makes the annual event so repulsive for many citizens.

It will be interesting to see if the man’s family sues despite the report that he was found with the stolen items. For Walmart, the cost of such litigation is too costly in comparison to the merchandise. This is why “strike suits” are so successful where companies settle for a few thousand dollars rather than incur litigation costs. Walmart would prefer to avoid such costs even in the face of blatant shoplifting as a cost of doing business.

Source: NBC

79 thoughts on “Alleged Shoplifter Dies After Struggle With Security and Staff At Georgia Walmart”

  1. raff,

    I’m pretty sure that if you have any shame before accepting a job at Fox, that part of the terms of employment are that it be surgically removed before the first day of work.

  2. Yep.

    Fire Saturday.

    Cut off supplier on Monday.

    Something about horses and barn doors comes to mind.

  3. Walmart has more blood on its hands.

    Fire Kills at Least 118 Factory Workers at Walmart Supplier in Bangladesh
    Tuesday, 27 November 2012 09:49 By Josh Eidelson, The Nation | Report

    NGOs slammed Walmart over a fire that killed at least 112 workers at a Bangladesh factory that supplied apparel for the retail giant. While Walmart says it has not confirmed that it has any relationship to the factory, photos provided to The Nation show piles of clothes made for one of its exclusive brands.

    In a statement e-mailed Sunday night, Walmart expressed sympathy for the victims’ families, and said that it was “trying to determine if the factory has a current relationship with Walmart or one of our suppliers…” The company called fire safety “a critically important area of Walmart’s factory audit program,” and said that it has been “working across the apparel industry to improve fire safety education and training in Bangladesh.” Walmart added that it has “partnered with several independent organizations to develop and roll out fire safety training tools for factory management and workers.”

    But in a Monday interview, Workers Rights Consortium Executive Director Scott Nova said Walmart’s “culpability is enormous. First of all they are the largest buyer from Bangladesh” and so “they make the market.” Nova said Bangladesh has become the world’s second largest apparel supplier “because they’ve given Walmart and its competitors what they want, which is the cheapest possible labor costs.”

    “So Walmart is supporting, is incentivizing, an industry strategy in Bangladesh: extreme low wages, non-existent regulation, brutal suppression of any attempt by workers to act collectively to improve wages and conditions,” Nova told The Nation. “This factory is a product of that strategy that Walmart invites, supports, and perpetuates.” The WRC is a labor monitoring group whose board is composed of students, labor organizations, and university administrators.

    The fire started Saturday night in a ground floor warehouse. According to media reports, the factory’s emergency exits were insufficient in number and unsafe in design, routing through the inside, rather than the outside, of the building. Some workers survived on the factory’s roof; several jumped out of the building. A lack of safe fire exits contributed to the death toll in New York’s notorious 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.

    A document on the website of the factory’s owner, Tuba Group, showed that the factory had received an “orange” rating from Walmart in May 2011, due to “violations and/or conditions that were deemed to be high risk.” The same document said that three such ratings within two years would result in a year-long suspension by Walmart.

    “Obviously, they didn’t do anything about it,” said Nova. He called Walmart’s internal monitoring system “a joke” that was “set up to enable Walmart to claim that it’s policing, without in any way, shape or form inconveniencing its production process.”

    1. add: “Wal-Mart has said the Tazreen factory was making clothes for the retail giant without its knowledge. Wal-Mart, which had received an audit deeming the factory “high risk” last year, said it had decided to stop doing business with Tazreen, but that a supplier subcontracted work to the factory anyway. Wal-Mart said it stopped working with that supplier on Monday.”

      Read more:

  4. Malisha,

    Interesting take on the SYG laws. I’m going to have to think about that some. As a rationale for the Koch supporting SYG, it makes a certain sort of sick sense in expanding corporatism.

  5. If we can remember, the SYG laws, the Zimmerman case, Florida, YOU WERE THERE. The SYG laws are beginning to go into effect everywhere for the simple purpose of turning all corporate entities into little self-authorized armies. It is not surprising that this kind of story is making news now. This is the time for this sort of story to begin to be the story of our time.

    Welcome to the world of “we don’t need a trial on this one, Boss.”

  6. bettykath,

    Agreement is not required. It never has been. I disagree with many posters and have disagreed with all of the guest bloggers (but one, the unreasonably reasonable Mike A.) and our host at times, but they never turn into verbal melee because they don’t use ad hominem or insult on me. Our disagreements remain sparring. However, if you (in the generic sense of “you”) contend that what I say is wrong, you should be prepared to prove it, not just expect your word to be taken for it. I can prove and reason my assertions and I do when they are challenged and often when they are not. To expect that of others is perfectly reasonable and equitable. It is not impossible to change my mind. It has been done here before and I’m sure it will be done again. That it is not easy and requires both proof and reason is immaterial to it being possible.

    If you have “rising anxiety” from my transactions with others, that is your reaction and as such it is yours to control and your responsibility. Your emotions are yours. I have never threatened you or anyone with violence here unlike some people including people you seem to object to my taking to task who has twice intimated that in real life he would try to do me harm because he didn’t like being proven factually wrong or getting better insult than he can give. Challenging someone’s facts or reason is not the equivalent of violence. I don’t know about you, but I deal with people as individuals and how they interact with me first and foremost. When I say if you had treated me the way some do when their assertions are challenged, you’d find yourself at the pointy end of my wit as well. You haven’t so you don’t and what should that tell you?

    You may hope all you wish, but my style not only recognizes and protects my rights but yours as well. Anyone is free to try to prove me wrong as they wish. I run from no challenge, but the challenger mush have proof and logic for their counterclaim or it isn’t a counterclaim, but an unfounded opinion. People are entitled to have and express their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts or to be free from challenge to their assertions. I’ve said it before: I’m a mirror. You get from me what you give to me. That is the Ethic of Reciprocity. You get what you give. You have never been anything but nice, reasonable and able to state what you think without resorting to ad hominem or insult and you’ve gotten the same treatment from me in return whether we agree or not on a given subject matter. That alone should inform that your rising anxiety is unnecessary as a matter of reason unless your anxiety is fear for others about to receive back what they have given. There is a lesson in that too. A lesson you already know, but others have yet to learn. I’m as nice to people as they let me be, but I’m as vicious to them as they demand by their choices in how they treat me. It’s my nature.

    But agreement is not required. As I said, I argue for sport. This requires a certain amount of disagreement for there is no argument when there is accord. That I would require agreement is not only illogical, but antithetical to my ends.

  7. Gene, Let me try one more time. I’ve been asking myself why your style of writing matters to me. I believe that I would benefit from some of your worthwhile thoughts. I think we both lose when I find your style to be so off-putting when anyone disagrees with you, and, taking your advice before you gave it, I don’t read most of your posts. When I see your name on a post, I have a rising anxiety b/c I have come to expect violence in your words. This is why I tried to get you to understand that there is another way, or style if you prefer. Certainly I have no right to make any demand that you change your style, and I don’t. My hope is that you will reconsider.

  8. leej, The point is not understood. Effective communication can be difficult. I don’t think we will succeed here. I see defensive fences in Gene’s posts that won’t allow for effective communication except with those who already agree with him.

  9. Gene I don;t want to engage in an argument. I was explaining what I saw as the difference. I never said I disapprove (or hreck approve) of what you write. I have never suggested censorship and I have never engaged in personal attacks and I will not do so now. I come to the blog for the interaction about the posts and people’s thoughts and debates. Period.

  10. “I know my grammar (I am a published author)”.

    Then you should know better grammatically. If you don’t like my “way of expressing and responding” that is a matter of style, not grammar. A matter of content, not composition. If my style presents a problem for you or anyone else, they are under no compulsion to read what I write. If you disapprove of the content, that is also your problem. I’m under no constraint to speak what or how you see fit. Calling it “emotional ‘grammar'” or NVC or whatever you want to hide that behind is simply another name for censorship. What I say and how I say it is my choice. That is part and parcel of free speech as it is an individual right. Again, if you don’t like what I write? You are perfectly free to not read it. However, trying to tell me what or how to write – unless it is a legitimate point of grammar, not style – is an exercise in futility. It’s simply not your choice to make.

  11. Let me rewrite that. I feel a misunderstanding as to the point of the discussion on “you” vs “I”. I feel a misunderstanding vs you don’t get it. The latter makes an accusation, the former does not.

Comments are closed.