Colorado residents may remember the August 2019 shooting that occurred at an El Paso Walmart Supercenter. One family affected by the shooting has filed a lawsuit against Walmart, stating that its lack of active on-site security at the time of the incident was a form of negligence. The lawsuit poses a challenge to the long-held belief that owners cannot be held responsible for violent acts in retail stores and malls.
News media reports back up the fact that there was no discernible security presence when the gunman went on his rampage. El Paso Walmarts used to have off-duty officers on the premises, but Walmart had discontinued the practice prior to the shooting. In the wake of the shooting, Walmart returned to its original practice.
Walmart has a way to determine the need for off-duty officers, non-uniformed officers and security guards at a particular store, but it has not disclosed this. Still, it is clear that stores won’t normally hire security unless the area is already known for being crime-infested. Security is mainly for the purpose of loss prevention.
Whether Walmart can indeed be held liable is hard to say as there are few legal precedents. However, some insurance companies are starting to offer active-shooter insurance policies to the owners of retail stores and other businesses.
Those who are injured through a violent act on another’s property may be able to file a premises liability claim. The violent act could have been anything from a shooting or an assault to a dog bite. Whatever the situation, victims may want a lawyer to provide advice and guidance. If the grounds for the case are solid, the lawyer may hire third parties to gather proof that the defendant failed in its duty of care to the entrant.