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The family of a Jamaica man, Jdimytai Damour, who was trampled to death in Wal−Mart at Green Acres Mall on Black Friday, sued the chain store last week on the grounds that Wal−Mart advertised steep discounts that caused an unruly crowd to gather outside the store. The suit further alleges Wal−Mart was not prepared to mitigate the large crowd.
Attorney Jordan Hecht, of the Manhattan−based Hecht, Kleeger, Pintel & Damashek Law Firm, filed the wrongful death suit in the Bronx Supreme Court Dec. 3 on behalf of Bronx resident Elsie Damour Phillipe, Damour’s sister.
A spokeswoman for Hecht said he was not commenting on the case, and Phillipe was not available for comment.
Wal−Mart, Green Acres Mall, Vornado Realty Trust and Securitas Security Services USA — the private security company that hired Damour — are all named in the suit. None of the defendants returned phone calls for comment.
Wal−Mart did release a statement about Damour, who was killed after a crowd of more than 2,000 people stampeded into the store at the mall in Valley Stream, L.I., at 5 a.m. on Black Friday, knocking over Damour and proceeding to step on him.
According to the autopsy report, Damour died of “positional asphyxiation.”
“We consider Mr. Damour part of the Wal−Mart family, and are saddened by his death,” the company said in the statement. “We have been in communication with members of his family to do what we can to help them through this difficult time. Our associates know that when incidents like this occur, we take care of our own.”
According to Damour’s father, Fresh Meadows resident Ogera Charles, Wal−Mart did not take care of his son, a 34−year−old who was 6−feet−5 and 270 pounds. The lawsuit states Damour had been working for the security company for less than a week and had never been trained in crowd management.
“I don’t know if the store did anything to help him,” Damour said in an interview last week. “Did they do nothing?”
According to a Nassau County police spokesman, the stampede was in part caused when two groups of shoppers clashed after individuals who had been waiting in their vehicles in Wal−Mart’s parking lot attempted to enter the store at the same time as those who had been waiting in line outside.
Both groups rushed the doors, knocking Damour down, police said.
Police have said they do not know if any shoppers will face criminal charges. Police said the investigation was ongoing and were continuing to review the video tapes that document Damour’s death.
Damour, raised primarily in Rosedale and Queens Village, had recently lost his job as a customer service representative and took the seasonal position at Wal−Mart, where his father said he was hoping to make enough to pay his bills and possibly put a little aside to pay for school.
Damour, who had previously attended Nassau County Community College, had wanted to go back to school to become a teacher, his father said.
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e−mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 174.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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