What can we do about guns in stores? Sue the stores.

After dropping a gun at TJ Maxx, a customer shoots herself in the foot.
#GunFail #ShootingWhileShopping

OPELIKA, Alabama. — A shopper at a TJ Maxx in east Alabama shot herself in the foot when her gun accidentally discharged, police said.

The gunfire happened when she dropped the gun Monday afternoon in the TJ Maxx at the Tiger Town shopping center in Opelika, The Opelika-Auburn News reported.

The 55-year-old woman was taken to a hospital. No other injuries were reported.

AP Via Fox 13,
In Texas you need TWO signs. One to ban concealed guns one to ban open carry.

According to the story, only the woman was injured. If I was in the store when this happened, even if I wasn’t physically injured, I would sue. And I would win because TJ Maxx failed to take the simple step of putting up a sign saying no guns in the store. Here’s my logic:

The store has a duty of care to shoppers. By allowing people with guns to enter as customers, they are taking on a certain level of responsibility to protect them. If they fail, and someone is injured while in the store, the company can be held liable. How liable they are depends on the steps they did or, or didn’t take, to keep customers safe.

The Sign that saved millions of dollars in Slip and Fall lawsuits.

In Premises Security law if a store had the option to do something reasonable to protect customers from injury–like put up a sign saying, “CAUTION WET FLOOR” or “CONCEALED HANDGUN PROHIBITED” but didn’t, and someone is injured, the company takes on a greater percentage of the responsibility for the injury to person who is hurt. And that translates to more financial compensation.

A judge could look at this case and say, “This is 80% the woman’s fault and 20% the store’s. The woman doesn’t have to carry insurance, and likely has none, but TJ Maxx has to carry insurance. It’s typically $5 million for each store.

What people don’t know is that accidental gun discharges happen all the time and many are in retail stores. From the CENG article on this “Since January 1, 2021, 45 people have been injured in Alabama’s as a result of an accident discharge of a firearm, According to the Gun Violence Archive, 9 were women.”

Accidental shooting at DeSoto Walmart caused by unlicensed gun owner

DESOTO, Texas – A shopper at a Walmart store in the Dallas suburb of DeSoto was hit by accidental gunfire. It happened around 6 p.m. Tuesday at the superstore on Belt Line Road.

DeSoto police said another shopper who was carrying a concealed handgun was to blame. It appears to have been an “accidental discharged.” 

The victim was hit by shrapnel and is expected to be okay. The man who fired the gun did not have a license to carry, police confirmed.

He was gone by the time police arrived but police said they know who he is and may file charges.

FOX 4, KDFW May 19, 2021

In fact, Walmart has a special insurance/ legal team that settles cases where people were injured by negligently discharged guns. Walmart keeps a lid on the size and number of the cash settlements following in-store incidents. The settlements are mostly sealed. The media aren’t going to do follow ups. By the way, the injuries don’t have to be only physical. PTSD is a real thing. There is also the option to sue for endangerment.

Bring the personal injury lawyers who sue for slip and fall accidents in stores to sue for accidental gun discharges. The stores need to pay a price for their decision to allow poorly trained and inexperienced concealed gun carriers in their stores.

I want to see big settlements in the news because it tells other people they can sue too. And according to my highly-places sources in the insurance industry, lots of big settlements lead to policy changes and enforcement of policies at the store level.

S.C. woman gets $10 million in Walmart lawsuit after stepping on rusty nail, losing most of leg (Nov. 30, 2021 WMBF/Gray News)

BTW, nowhere in any of the stories I read was it mentioned if she had a concealed carry license. Concealed carry in Alabama requires a license. Open Carry doesn’t and is legal in Alabama. (Giffords Link on Alabama law) If she didn’t have a CCL she would be charged, that increases HER liability, but as I noted, she doesn’t have to carry insurance. However if she has a CCL, and the store permits concealed guns in the store, then the lawyer suing the company can say.

This is not about criminals ignoring signs. If TJ Maxx had banned guns in the store by putting up signs, the law-abiding concealed carrier would have left her gun in the car and my client never would have been injured.”

If you want to more detail about this issue, and how it can be used by customers and lawyers, applied to corporation to insurance policies, read my 2016 letter to Alex Gourlay the EVP of the Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.

When you allow a few customers to carry concealed guns into your stores you are trusting them with the lives of your employees, all the other customers and their children.

You may not know just how poorly trained and inexperienced some concealed gun carriers are. In 25 states people aren’t even required to show they know how to shoot a gun to get a permit. In eight states, no permit or training is required at all to carry a concealed gun.  

Three reasons why customers shouldn’t carry guns in stores: accidents, escalation and liability

Comments are closed.