CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — A second former employee has filed a $50 million lawsuit against Walmart following the mass shooting in Chesapeake on November 22.
The suit, filed on behalf of James Kelly, alleges the company was negligent in its hiring and continued employment of Andre Bing, and is ultimately liable for the shooting.
Kelly began working at the store as an overnight stocking clerk on August 1 of this year. According to the suit, Bing “was a team lead with Walmart and responsible for managing the overnight stocking crew, including Mr. Kelly.”
The lawsuit includes several details also listed in the first lawsuit brought by Donya Prioleau (both are represented by Morgan & Morgan). Both suits claim that, prior to the shooting, Bing told coworkers about running over a turtle with a lawn mower and asked about whether they’d completed an active shooter training.
“Mr. Bing had a reputation among Walmart employees for being the team lead to ‘watch out for,’ the suit alleges. “It was well known that Mr. Bing had a bad attitude and would retaliate against fellow employees for the smallest perceived slight or inadequacy. Mr. Bing was known for being a mean and cruel supervisor.”
Kelly, like Prioleau, also claims to have alerted Walmart to Bing’s disturbing behavior. According to the suit, he “complained to Walmart that Mr. Bing harassed and badgered him throughout the duration of his employment.”
Kelly was in the breakroom when the shooting began. The suit alleges he witnessed several coworkers get shot and killed, leaving him with a myriad of PTSD-related symptoms. He also injured his ankle while running to escape.
The suit requests a $50 million judgement to cover compensatory damages related to the shooting and Kelly’s injuries, medical bills and lost wages.
Tim Anderson, an attorney in Virginia Beach, tells 10 On Your Side lawsuits like this are rare and often unfounded due to lack of causal evidence.
“You’ve got to hurdle this big grand canyon of getting Walmart on the hook of knowing that this person had such a temperament that this would have been reasonably foreseeable,” Anderson explained, “most of these cases fail because that leap is very, very big.”
Anderson told us even if more employees sue the company, it will have no effect unless the plaintiffs can prove Walmart knew the shooter was a liability and continued to employee him.
“It’s all going to boil down to what Walmart knew. If Walmart knew nothing, if there was no indication of violence by this guy, what this guy did at Walmart is not Walmart’s fault. Generally speaking, employers are not responsible for the intentional acts of their employees,” Anderson stated.
If evidence proves Walmart was negligent, Anderson is certain changes in corporate policy will be made.
“Good corporate policy always comes out of bad lawsuits. The hot coffee at McDonalds is a situation where there was a bad lawsuit. They served a super hot cup of coffee and the lid wasn’t on there and it really hurt the person when they spilled it. There’s signs on your lawnmower that say don’t stick your hand where the blade is,” Anderson said.
10 On Your Side reached out to the law firm, Morgan & Morgan, multiple times for comment. We have not received a response.