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Walmart Black Friday Gets Black Eye: An Injury Attorney’s Opinion

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by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

Was it just a coincidence that most, if not all, of the reported violence by shoppers on Black Friday occurred at Walmart stores?  Absolutely not.  The incidents did not just occur AT Walmarts, they occurred BECAUSE OF Walmart.

I hate to admit it, but I was at several different stores before and after midnight on Black Friday.  What else is there to do in Surprise, Arizona?  I was there visiting family for Thanksgiving.  At the request of relatives, and because there was nothing else to do, we checked out the Black Friday scene.

We visited Best Buy, Toys R Us and Kohls all before the start of their Black Friday sales that night.  At every store, there were at least 300 people in line outside.  The people were all in orderly lines controlled by store employees and security guards.

At the start of the sales at these stores, the people were not sent running in to fight others for merchandise.  They were allowed to enter the store in groups to make sure only a certain number of people were in together.  Additionally, tickets were passed out to those in line for the most popular items.  This also helped control the situation.

All these stores were a stark contrast to Walmart.


The Walmart Black Friday Frenzy


When I arrived at the Walmart store in Arizona, I found an absolutely packed parking lot — yet no one in line outside.  When I entered the store, I found out why.  Rather than closing the store and having customers line up outside, Walmart stayed open and crammed everyone into the store at once.

Instead of forming lines or passing out tickets, Walmart employees set up pallets of items throughout the store.  The merchandise was shrink-wrapped on pallets and mobs of people surrounded each pallet waiting for the start of the sale.

A Walmart employee explained that at the start of each sale (some items went on sale at 10:00 p.m. and others at midnight), the items would be unwrapped and customers would be set loose to fight for the merchandise.  When I asked if the store ever considered the potential frenzy and injuries, I was told, “Yes, that’s why we have ‘medics’ walking around.  Just look for the Walmart employees with the red backpacks if you get hurt.”

You see, it was apparent to me that Walmart knew, or should have known, what could, and what most likely would, happen.  In fact, they appeared to be counting on it

Walmart did not want prospective customers to see long lines outside and think they had no chance at a deal. They wanted them in the store believing that anyone who fought hard enough, still had a chance to get that Walmart-priced Xbox, TV, or even the $2 waffle maker.  For those surprised that customers were fighting over $2 waffle makers – I’m sure Walmart wasn’t.  They know their customers and appealed to them with these “bargains.”

Black Friday Shopping Safety


If anyone would have been seriously hurt during these sales, Walmart – in my opinion – would have been liable.  In California, store owners are subject to a duty to exercise ordinary care to avoid exposing others to an unreasonable risk of harm.

All business owners must use reasonable care to protect their customers from being injured by dangerous conditions.  Not only did Walmart not protect customers from a dangerous condition (as we saw with the Pepper Spray Incident at a Walmart in Los Angeles), it can be argued that Walmart created the dangerous condition.

It’s easy to blame the “crazy people” shopping for Walmart Black Friday bargains.  But when you look deeper, you realize that Walmart was also responsible.  Let’s just hope next year no one is trampled in the frenzy, and that guns do not replace pepper spray.

David B. Bobrosky is a Los Angeles Injury Attorney at Lewitt Hackman. You may reach him by e-mail:


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