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2000-02-24
Birmingham, AL. Wal-Mart Settles Gun Death Lawsuit

On March 26, 1998, James Michael White of Hartselle, Alabama went to his local Wal-Mart store and bought a Winchester shotgun. Thirteen days later, White took his new Wal-Mart shotgun and used it to murder Sherry Hopper White, his wife, in front of their two daughters. Then he turned his Wal-Mart shotgun on Eldridge Steven Hopper, Sherry's 16 year old brother. The shotgun sale might not have been so remarkable were it not for the fact that White was under a court restraining order to stay away from his wife. White said at his murder trial that when he was filling out forms at Wal-Mart to buy the weapon, he denied that he was under a restraining order. By federal law, people with restraining orders are not supposed to be sold guns. White said he then read the form more closely and changed the answer on his form to "Yes", he was under a restraining order, but he said Wal-Mart employees were occupied with cash register problems and did not notice his answer on the form. After buying the gun, White then bought buckshot that was used in the double murder. In a prepared statement, Wal-Mart claimed that the company provides special training to all its employees involved in firearm sales. In this case, Wal-Mart workers sold a gun to someone who said he was under a restraining order, in violation of federal law. The families sued Wal-Mart, saying that the company should never have sold the gun to White. Wal-Mart decided to settle the case this past week, and lawyers would not discuss the settlement amounts because of a confidentiality agreement. When the lawsuits were first filed, the family asked Wal-Mart for $18 million, so it is likely the family receive a very large settlement from Wal-Mart.

What you can do: For more examples of Wal-Mart and other big box problems with guns, see newflash entries for 11/15/98, 12/12/99, 9/3/99 and 1/27/99. In 1993, a Florida jury awarded a woman $11.5 million after Kmart employees sold her drunken boyfriend a hunting rifle that he later used to shoot and cripple her. The man was so drunk, Kmart employees had to help him fill out the gun forms. There's nothing comparable to the service you find at big box stores!










 
 
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