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3 Lessons for SMBs From Black Friday Lawsuits

By Daniel Taylor, Esq. | Last updated on

The specter of a Black Friday lawsuit can certainly cast a pall over what should be one of the biggest days of the year for many SMB retailers.

Fortunately retailers can certainly take precautions to keep shoppers safe and prevent the injuries or other incidents that have led to past Black Friday lawsuits

What can business owners learn from these previous Black Friday lawsuits? Here are three lessons:

  1. Door-buster sales can lead to injury lawsuits. Encouraging shoppers to rush into the store to grab a door-buster discount can lead to a personal injury lawsuit by a trampled customer or even a lawsuit by an injured employee. In 2008, the family of a Walmart worker trampled to death by customers on Black Friday filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company for negligence in "staging, conducting, and advertising for sales events" reports FOX News.
  2. Hire extra security. If your business is offering a sale on limited-inventory items, hiring extra security is a must for preventing an all-out melee from taking place. In 2011, a California woman claimed she was forced to use pepper spray to fend off other shoppers who attacked her children as they tried to grab XBox video games during a Walmart Black Friday sale. The woman threatened the retailer with a lawsuit, claiming the store failed to provide adequate security.
  3. Administrative penalties also possible. In addition to lawsuits by customers and workers, failing to prepare for Black Friday can also result in being cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Walmart was fined $7,000 for the 2008 incident in which one of the company's workers was trampled to death. The company was still fighting in court more than five years after the incident, according to The New York Times.

Find more legal tips for business owners at FindLaw's section on Small Business Law.

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