Sunday, November 30, 2008

Who's The Most Culpable?

On Friday, I pointed out what I considered to be part of the reason that we continue to see animalistic behavior by people shopping on Black Friday. One of the tragedies of that day was the trampling death of a worker at Wal-Mart:
Cell phone video obtained by CBS 2 HD shows Jdimytai Damour, a 34-year-old part-time employee hired as a holiday temp. He was crushed in the onslaught and pronounced dead an hour later. As responding Nassau police and paramedics tried to save him, they were also jostled and pushed to the ground.
The latest reports indicate that the police are looking at surveillance tapes to identify people that were part of the riot and look into possible charges. That is as how it should be.

There is also some question of the liability of Wal-Mart in this incident:
His cousin, Nicole Jean, was on the phone to Damour's mother in Haiti Friday evening trying to help her arrange a flight to New York. His father, Orgera Charles, seemed shell-shocked at his apartment in Flushing, saying "He didn't get married. He didn't have the baby yet."

Nicole Jean said Damour's supervisor at the temp service where he worked complained that Wal-Mart wasn't using him for the intended job.
"He wasn't supposed to be working security on the door," she quoted him as saying. She seemed to be blaming the store for creating the situation that lead to the man's death.
It perplexes me that a company as big as Wal-Mart is using temp agencies, even for holiday help, but that is not the main issue.

The management of the store should have expected a rush on Friday morning. We see the stories on the news every year. It makes me question what kind of preparation did they make to handle the predictably high volume of people.

Mr. Damour was apparently hired for a different job, and Wal-Mart wasn't using him for the job that they hired for him. That appears to be a bit of a bait and switch scam. Did they hire him for a lower paying job and decided to use him in the more costly position of security, a job he wasn't apparently trained to do? If so, they willingly put Mr. Damour, their other employees and their customers in harm's way. Just for the sake of shaving a few bucks off their operating costs.

I doubt that the authorities will be looking into that aspect of things. However, I would expect that there will be some sort of civil lawsuit from the family of Mr. Damour, but even then, it will probably be settled quietly out of court, and we will see a rerun of this year after year.


  1. As a part time Wal Mart employee, I can answer some of the questions you have.
    First, each Wal Mart store has their own security, called AP. Their pay is close to that of an overnight stocker, so they are not saving that much money. I work in the grocery area, but I have taken down shoplifters.
    When you are hired at Wal Mart, you work for Wal Mart and the store, they can pull you to do just about any job you are qualifed for.
    I am surprised they hired workers from a temp agency. Wal Mart likes to control their workers and use very little outside help. Other than truck drivers, I haven't seen it at all here.
    That being said, they should have handled it better. If the crowd was that big, the cops should have been brought in earlier, opened the store earlier or hired a security company. But that is hind sight. Considering that this is the first time, I believe, a death has resulted, it would have been hard to predict.
    But the bottom line is that you have a bunch low lifes who fail to show any civility just to save a few bucks on a game or electronic device.

  2. Thanks for the insight, Dan.

    I agree that the mob was most responsible, but I don't believe that this is the first death on Black Friday. I haven't done the research, but it seems to me that there have been other similar incidents.