The biggest retailer in the world, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., was hit by a lawsuit related to the bullets used in three Pennsylvania murders. Allegedly, Wal-Mart employees were negligent because they sold bullets to an intoxicated and underage customer. Later, three murders were committed with the bullets.
The suit was filed by the murder victims' families. The families are asking for financial compensation and punitive damages from Wal-Mart and its employees.
The lawsuit says that "at no time did the Walmart defendants ... require that Robert Jourdain present appropriate and valid identification ... Nor did the defendants take any precautions to determine whether Mr. Jourdain was intoxicated."
Shot and Killed 3 People He Didn't Know
According to court records, the Wal-Mart employees sold the bullets to Robert Jourdain at 2:56 a.m. on July 5, 2015, at a store located in Easton, Pennsylvania. Twenty-year-old Jourdain left the Wal-Mart after buying the bullets and gave them to 22-year-old Todd West. West then loaded his Smith & Wesson revolver with the bullets and went on a killing spree. In Easton, Pennsylvania, West fatally shot 22-year-old stranger Kory Ketrow. In Allentown, he murdered two more strangers -- 32-year-old Francine Ramos and 21-year-old Trevor Gray.
New Case Law Could Point to Defendants' Liability
Ammunition sellers and gun dealers used to believe that they were protected from lawsuits through the federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. However, a case in Wisconsin changed that last year. A gun store in Milwaukee was found liable after it sold a firearm to a 21-year-old customer whom clerks suspected was buying the weapon illegally for another person. Later, an 18-year-old used the very same gun to shoot and seriously injure two police officers. The officers were awarded financial damages in a jury trial related to that case.
Considering that the gun store lost the case in Wisconsin, it could point to the defendants' potential liability in this wrongful death case. However, Wal-Mart may be able to successfully argue that the bullets sold could also be used in rifles, meaning that the age limit for purchasing them is actually 18.
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