The family of a victim killed during a tornado that swept through Joplin, Mo. is now filing a wrongful death lawsuit against Walmart.
According to the Joplin Globe, Stanley Kirk, 62, died after suffering injuring during a May 22, 2011 EF-5 tornado that killed 160 additional people. The wrongful death lawsuit against a Joplin, Missouri Walmart lists Kirk’s wife, Janice, and daughter, Jodelle, as plaintiffs.
Walmart Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The wrongful death lawsuit, filed by the Kirk family lists Walmart Stores Inc. and Joplin’s store manager, Andy Martin, as defendants.
The lawsuit states that Kirk called his wife around 5 p.m. May 22, 2011 to state that he was going to Walmart. At 5:17 p.m., tornado sirens went off alerting Joplin of an oncoming tornado. The lawsuit states, “Sometime after the conversation with his wife, but before approximately 5:24 p.m., (Kirk) attempted to leave the store to return home… (Kirk) was forced to stay in the store and (was) directed to an unsafe/improper location.”
The Kirk family states that by locking the doors, Walmart did not allow Kirk to leave and prevented emergency personnel from entering. The Kirk family states in court records, Kirk lived three miles away, “or a seven-minute drive” in an area not hit by the tornado.
The Kirk family states that Walmart’s negligent behavior contributed to Stanley Kirk’s death.
The family argues:
- The Walmart store is located in an area prone to tornadoes and violent wind;
- The store is not constructed properly given the increased risk of violent storms and tornadoes;
- Walmart did not have a proper emergency plan and lacked signage and identification of safe areas or tornado refuge areas;
- The store directed customers to unsafe areas leading the customers to be at risk for serious injury or death during the storms;
- Walmart knew there was a risk for violent storms when the tornado sirens sounded.
Andy Martin states he was employed at the Joplin Walmart store on May 22, 2011, but was not working that particular night of the tornado. He states he was on vacation the preceding week.
The wrongful death lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount of damages. The Kirk family is seeking compensation for pain and suffering, the loss of Stanley Kirk’s income, and funeral and medical expenses.
In a statement released by Randy Hargrove, Walmart’s director of national media relations, Walmart stated, “We extend our deepest sympathy to Mr. Kirk’s family. This was a horrible tragedy for Joplin. Walmart is committed to this community, and we have worked hard to help rebuild after this tragic event. We have protocols in place for severe weather, and the safety plan our associates implemented helped save lives. We stand behind our associates and how they handled this natural disaster.”
In total three people died inside the Joplin Walmart on the night of the tornado.
Losing a loved one is tough. Medical bills and loss of income make it even tougher. The South Carolina wrongful death lawyers at the Strom Law Firm understand how hard losing a loved one is. We believe those who contributed to your loved one’s death should be held responsible. If your loved one died because of another’s negligence, we can help you. Call us the Strom Law Firm today or fill out web form for a free evaluation. 803.252.4800.