Wal-Mart fine in holiday sale death upheld: judge

Retail Reuters

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. judge upheld on Friday a fine against Wal-Mart Stores Inc <WMT.N> issued by U.S. workplace safety regulators after a fatal stampede of frenzied holiday shoppers in 2008 at a Long Island store.

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The world's largest retailer was fined when a 34-year-old security guard, Jdimytai Damour, was knocked to the ground and trampled to death in the early morning hours on the Friday after Thanksgiving as shoppers stormed the Wal-Mart store.

The judge, who presided an independent commission, upheld a May 2009 Occupational Safety and Health Administration citation of $7,000 against Wal-Mart, which the retailer contested in court in New York.

Wal-Mart did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the decision.

Wal-Mart's "precautions to protect its employees were minimal and ineffective," Judge Covette Rooney said.

When the store opened its doors at 5 a.m. on the post-Thanksgiving Friday, known as the "Blitz Day" sale, "customers surged into the vestibule ... knocking down two doors off their hinges," the decision said. Some customers had been standing in line since 5:30 p.m. the day before.

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(Reporting by Basil Katz; editing by Andre Grenon)

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