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Wal-Mart to pay $2 million in worker's death


New York City Wal-Mart has agreed to pay nearly $2 million and take extra safety precautions after a customer stampede killed a store employee at its store in Valley Stream, N.Y., last year.

Under its settlement with the Nassau County District Attorney's Office, Wal-Mart will pay $1.5 million for community programs in Nassau County and another $400,000 to compensate people who were injured in the incident and repay them for out-of-pocket expenditures, District Attorney Kathleen Rice of Nassau County said in a statement.

The district attorney and Wal-Mart said they agreed on a crowd-management plan that the retailer will implement at each of its 92 stores in New York for after-Thanksgiving shopping.

"The crowd management plan we are announcing today was developed by a team of experts whose experience includes NFL Super Bowls, Olympic games, concerts and national political conventions," said Hank Mullany, senior VP and president of the chain's northeast division.

The agreement, announced late Wednesday, includes no admission of guilt or wrongdoing by Wal-Mart.

Jdimytai Damour, a temporary employee at the store, had been on the job for about a week and had no training in security or crowd control when a crowd estimated at 2,000 broke down the Valley Stream store’s doors, trapping him in a vestibule. The 34-year-old man died of asphyxiation. Eleven other individuals were injured.

Earlier this year, Damour's family announced plans to sue the county, retailer and others. The family's attorney had no immediate comment on Wednesday's announcement.

The district attorney, who began a criminal investigation shortly after the incident, said that if she had brought criminal charges against Wal-Mart for negligence in the worker's death, the company would have been subject to only a $10,000 fine if convicted. She defended her settlement with the chain in her statement.

"Rather than bringing the world's largest retailer to court and imposing a small fine against them, I felt it was important to require significant safety changes that will affect the whole state," Rice said. "Our goal is for the protocols that are set up to be the gold standard for crowd management in this industry."

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