Walmart Sued in Sale of Ammo Used in Pennsylvania Murders
Wal-Mart Stores faces a lawsuit in Pennsylvania claiming store employees negligently allowed an underage, intoxicated customer to buy a box of bullets used to commit three murders.
The lawsuit, filed in Philadelphia by families of the victims, seeks compensatory and vindictive reparations from Wal-Mart and several workers at its Easton, Pennsylvania, store, where the ammunition were bought by Robert Jourdain on July 5. The Bentonville, the Arkansas-based company operates stores under the Walmart name.
“At no time did the Walmart defendants…require that Robert Jourdain present appropriate and valid identification,” the lawsuit says. “Nor did the defendants take any precautions to determine whether Mr. Jourdain was intoxicated.”
Jourdain, then 20, walked out of the store with the bullets and handed them to Todd West, then 22, who loaded them into his .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, the suit says.
About 15 minutes later, West randomly shot and killed a stranger, Kory Ketrow, 22, in Easton. Twenty minutes after that, he murdered Francine Ramos, 32, and Trevor Gray, 21, in Allentown. He didn’t know any of them.
Last year, in a Wisconsin case, a jury found a Milwaukee gun store responsible for selling a gun to a 21-year-old customer even though sellers had serious misgivings that the buyer was illegally buying the gun for someone else.
Later, that gun was used by an 18-year-old to shoot and wound two police officers.
Spokesperson Randy Hargrove said Wal-Mart has a policy requiring cashiers to verify ages in guns or ammo purchases and has cash register prompts to remind them.
Hargrove said the company may argue that the ammo bought by Jourdain for West could be used in either guns or rifles and that the lower age limit of 18 for purchases of ammunition for rifles should apply in the case.
Shira Goodman, executive director of CeasefirePA, an anti-gun group in Philadelphia, said negligent behavior by sellers might prove to be a way for some victims of gun violence to get around the protective federal law.
“I think it does show some desire to hold people responsible in innovative ways,” Goodman said.
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