Wrongful Death; Machete Retailer Walmart Sued by Family of Slain Uber Driver

Image via AL.com

In March, an Uber driver was stabbed and killed by a teenage girl who stole a machete from a nearby Walmart store moments before being picked up.

Grant Nelson, 34, was killed on May 30 after picking up 16-year-old Eliza Wasni outside a Walmart in Skokie, Illinois, around 16 miles north of Chicago. Wasni, who called Nelson a “random victim”, was seen on surveillance footage walking around Walmart with a knife and machete and then leaving without paying for them, according to prosecutors

In our original post, Gotham City Esq. asked the question, “Is Walmart responsible in any way?” Could they have stopped the teenager from stealing the weapon she later used to kill?

Nelson’s family believes they could have. According to a new wrongful death lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court, Nelson’s family believes Walmart could have taken measures to prevent the teen from stealing the weapon. The lawsuit also names Allied Universal and Monterrey Security Consultants as defendants, according to court documents. Both of the companies provided security services to the store.

In a statement, Walmart said they would respond “appropriately” with the court, “but we can say that we believe our associates acted properly, including alerting third-party security to a possible shoplifting incident.”

An attorney for Nelson’s family, Robert Bingle, said in a statement that it was “very obvious that this young girl with a machete in one hand and a knife in the other hand, with no receipt, was not going to do anything good.”

He also said the tragedy could have been avoided “if Walmart and its agents had simply followed their own procedures.” He said Wasni was not stopped, questioned or asked to show a receipt at the store’s exit door.

I’ve never gone to Walmart looking for a machete so I’m not sure what aisle they are in, but it definitely seems access to them is far too easy. Minors should not be able to walk into Walmart and have easy access to dangerous weapons.

Wasni, a high school student, was arrested shortly after the attack and charged as an adult in June with first-degree murder. She is being held without bail, the Chicago Tribune reported.

It’s hard to believe a young teenage girl could commit an act like this on her own free will. But the prosecution has strong evidence that by entering a Walmart and stealing the weapons, she had criminal intent.

Illinois has specific state laws that govern wrongful death claims. The law states, “Whenever the death of a person shall be caused by wrongful act, neglect or default, and the act, neglect or default is such as would, if death had not ensued, have entitled the party injured to maintain an action and recover damages,” the person or entity that caused the death can be held liable in a wrongful death lawsuit.

In their lawsuit, the Nelson family is seeking unspecified financial damages. Nelson’s sister, Alexandra Nelson, called the attack “horrifying and maddening” but the family hopes “justice will happen.”

Grant Nelson Photo via Chicago Tribune


Eliza Wasni – Photo courtesy of Village of Lincolnwood


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