Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is facing a lawsuit in Pennsylvania after bullets purchased at the store were used in three murders. The lawsuit claims store employees were negligent when they allowed an underage, drunk customer to purchase the box of bullets.
Families of the three victims are seeking compensatory and punitive damages from Wal-Mart and several employees at the Easton, Pennslyvania store, according to Reuters. The bullets were purchased by Robert Jourdain on July 5 at 2:56 am.
Jourdain, who was 20 at the time, gave the bullets to Todd West, 22, who loaded them into his revolver. West randomly shot and killed Kory Ketrow about 15 minutes later. Twenty minutes after that, West killed Francine Ramos, 32, and Trevor Gray, 21, all of whom were strangers to him.
According to the Huffington Post, the lawsuit faults the Wal-Mart staff for being undeterred by Jourdain’s inebriated condition and failing to card him before the ammunition sale. The plaintiffs claim jordan was “mentally incapacitated by drugs and/or alcohol” when he walked into the store.
Previously, sellers of guns and ammunition believed they were protected from liability in a murder investigation. The federal Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act suggested they could not be held responsible. However, a jury found a Milwaukee, Wisconsin gun store liable in an attempted murder of two police officers after clerks sold a gun to a 21-year-old customer. The clerks had suspicions that the buyer was illegally purchasing the gun for someone else.
The police officers in the case were awarded damages by the jury, showing that the Act will not protect gun sellers if they do not follow the law, or if they suspect an illegal sale but go through with it anyway.
Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove told reporters that the retail giant has a policy requiring cashiers to verify ages in gun or ammo purchases. Hargrove noted that the cash register prompts them to enter in a date of birth before allowing the sale.
The spokesman added that the company may argue that the bullets purchased by Jourdain could be used in either handguns or rifles. Rifle ammunition purchases have a lower age limit of 18.