FORT SCOTT, Kan. — A lawsuit in which a Southeast Kansas woman alleges she was trampled during a Black Friday promotion at a Wal-Mart Supercenter was recently transferred to federal court.
Filed by attorneys representing Amanda DuVall in October 2014, the lawsuit asserts Wal-Mart did not do enough to protect her as a customer.
According to her petition for damages, DuVall, of Fort Scott, says she got to the store at 2500 S. Main St. at 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 28, 2013, to wait for the 8 p.m. sale of an RCA, 7-inch dual-core tablet for $49.99.
The petition states that Wal-Mart employees explained to the crowd that gathered how the sale would work, and at 8 p.m., employees cut the wrapper off a pallet on which tablets were shipped as the crowd “rushed to the tablets.”
According to the petition, DuVall, who was “toward the front of the group of people,” reached for a tablet.
She “was suddenly thrust forward from behind, her body fell violently to the floor, her face struck the hard tile and other customers stomped on her.” It states she continued to have great pain in her head, neck and back, causing loss of enjoyment of life and earning capacity.
The lawsuit, which includes one count of negligence and one count of violating the Kansas Consumer Protection Act, was originally filed in state court in Bourbon County but was later removed to the U.S. District Court in Topeka, Kansas, and the place of trial is designated as Kansas City, Kansas.
DuVall argues that Wal-Mart had a duty to take reasonable measures to protect her, the ability to control or supervise the behavior of its customers, and that Wal-Mart knew customers’ behavior needed to be controlled because of past incidents of violence or tramplings during previous Black Friday sales. DuVall’s petition asserts Wal-Mart failed to take reasonable steps to take such measures, including failing to train and supervise personnel in the “handling of aggressive behavior.”
DuVall also claims Wal-Mart “engaged in deceptive acts practices by offering property or services without intent to supply reasonable, expectable public demand,” misrepresented the availability of the item, and concealed or suppressed the fact that demand would vastly outweigh supply.”
DuVall’s petition also states that as a result of her injuries, she likely will “sustain lost earning capacity.” DuVall seeks an amount “in excess of $75,000 and punitive damages” on each of her counts.
Wal-Mart is denying all of DuVall’s allegations. Spokesperson Randy Hargrove said in a phone interview last week that the company “looked into the situation as soon as we were made aware and were unable to verify the plaintiff’s claims.”
He confirmed each store has video surveillance and that it could be used as evidence from that store on that date in court.
Hargrove also said that in recent years, Wal-Mart stores have adopted several safety programs for customers, each designed with large-scale shopping events like Black Friday in mind.
A telephone number listed for DuVall has been disconnected. Attorneys for DuVall did not return calls from the Globe on Tuesday seeking comment.