A federal appeals court overturned a lower court on Thursday and reintroduced a negligence charge against Walmart Inc. in connection with a customer's out-of-store knife.
Walmart employee Patricia Harjo and her husband Roy Harjo argued and fought outside a Walmart store in Shawnee, Oklahoma, when 17-year-old Dillion Burge, who did not know the couple, intervened to protect Mrs. Harjo, even though a manager allegedly have warned him not to do so, according to Thursday's decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver Dillion Allen Burge et al. v. Wal-Mart Stores East, L.P.
Mr. Harjo drew a knife and stabbed Mr. Burge twice. Mr. Burge was taken to a hospital and survived.
Mr. Burge sued Walmart for negligence. The U.S. District Court in Oklahoma City issued Walmart a summary judgment, holding that Walmart had no reason "to know that Mr. Harjo had a knife or would stab Mr. Burge with it," the decision said.
The judgment was overturned by a unanimous panel of three judges. "The district court erred in analyzing whether Walmart was liable to Burge," the decision states. "It asked the question too narrowly when it asked if Walmart could foresee a stabbing of Harjo.
" It should have asked if an attack by Harjo was foreseeable, "it said, contrary to the lower court's decision and reconsideration of the case. [1
"And most importantly, this decision will act as an alarm clock for others, always resulting in changes that make our society safer than it was yesterday. In the end, that is what we all strive for.
Walmart's lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.