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"Given the history of violence in their parking lots," a wrongful death lawsuit claims, "and Wal-Mart's [sic] knowledge they were not employing adequate security measures, it was foreseeable to Wal-Mart that the Plaintiff would be attacked in their parking lot and sustain serious injury or death."
That's the legal argument a widow is making against the megaretailer, and it may be difficult for Walmart to refute. Recent years have seen a crime wave at Walmart locations, from the serious to the silly. This time it was Fadil Delkic who was shot and killed after an argument in a Snellville, Georgia Walmart parking lot.
The incident happened in August, and appears to have been an argument over parking in the crowded lot. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Troy Hunte's girlfriend was upset Delkic pulled his car too close to her family in a crosswalk. Surveillance video showed Delkic attempting to avoid an altercation. "(Delkic) actually left the first confrontation and went and parked," said Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter. "Then, more or less, the fight was brought to him." Hunte's girlfriend (who has not been identified) then allegedly slapped Delkic in the face before Hunte pulled out a gun and shot him once in the chest.
Hunte has been arrested and charged with murder, and is also named in Bahra Delkic's lawsuit against Walmart. Delkic is asking for a jury trial and for compensation "for the full value of the life Fadil Delkic in an amount to be determined by the evidence."
Many, Many Isolated Incidents
"This appears to have been an unfortunate dispute between two individuals that we had no knowledge of and no way of knowing their argument was going to escalate into violence," Randy Hargrove told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. While Hargrove may be correct about the specific incident involving Delkic, Walmart is certainly aware of the high crime rates in its parking lots.
Walmart CEO Doug McMillon made reducing crime a top priority when he took over in 2014, and the company allegedly keeps a detailed criminal database of incidents at their stores. And even if Walmart weren't tracking criminal activity internally, local police departments and media outlets certainly are. According to recent reports, incidents at Walmart accounted for nearly half of all criminal activity in Port Ritchie, Florida, and Tulsa police claim they were called to the city's four Walmart stores almost 2,000 times in a single year.
Courts have become more likely to find retailers liable for crimes that occur in their parking lots over recent years. Whether Walmart, or any other retail store, will be legally responsible for injuries resulting from a crime on their property will depend on how foreseeable the crime was. Stores and parking lot owners are more likely to be on the hook for any injuries or deaths resulting from robberies or assaults in their lots if they operate in high crime areas or if their lots have often been the scene of a crime.