Walmart Parking Lot Insanity Never Ends
Two men recently made Walmart into a dangerous place to be – way past Black Friday: One went deer hunting with a gun in a parking lot at a store in Pennsylvania, and another crashed his car into the front entrance of a store in California and then allegedly assaulted customers.
It’s Always Deer Season at Walmart
In November, Arcangelo Bianco Jr., 40, who had just gone shopping in the store in Burrell Township, Penn., reportedly decided that a 10-point white-tailed deer running across his path was just too good a target to pass up: he got out of his truck in the parking lot and starting shooting at it with his handgun.
He apparently hit the buck, which he then followed across a nearby highway to bag. Meanwhile, other shoppers in the parking lot called 911 to report a man was shooting a gun in the Walmart parking lot.
Bianco was charged in March with the misdemeanor of reckless endangerment as well as several hunting violations. A preliminary hearing will be held for Bianco in May.
Clean-up on Aisle One
And on Mar. 31, a man in his thirties, possibly drunk or drugged, reportedly crashed his car into the front of a Walmart store in San Jose, Calif., then got out and began hitting people with a blunt object. He wounded four bystanders, one of them seriously.
Witnesses said he was driving erratically in the parking lot, sideswiping two cars before heading for the entrance. His dark red Oldsmobile reached about 10 feet into the Walmart store, crashing through the glass front doors at 40 mph and knocking over a Budweiser display.
Hi picked something up and started swinging at customers and employees. He was arrested on assault charges and put in jail.
Premises Liability Possible
While the parking lot perpetrators face their own criminal charges, what is Walmart’s liability to its customers for allowing such shenanigans to take place on its premises?
“In both cases Walmart would have to have some kind of notice of a problem before it could be held responsible,” says Eric Turkewitz of the Turkewitz Law Firm in New York.
“A property owner is not strictly liable for anything that happens on its premises,” he says, referring to the legal term that is often used to hold companies liable for inherently dangerous or defective products regardless of whether they were actually negligent.
In California, the customers who were hurt may have a case, depending on what Walmart was aware of. “If, for example, security was informed 30 minutes earlier that there was a man driving erratically around the parking lot and didn’t react to keep the premises reasonably safe, then that is something that could be explored,” Turkewitz says.
But the customers in Pennsylvania are probably out of luck: any plaintiff would have to prove damages. “As to the deer hunter, no one was hurt,” he points out. “It’s like a car running a red light and almost hitting you: Count your blessings.”