Appeals Court Rejects Appeal in Workplace Shooting Case

March 7, 2005 ( - A federal appeals court has turned away efforts by an employee of a Pennsylvania Wal-Mart to revive her negligence suit that claimed the giant retailer should not have sold bullets to her husband which he later used to shoot her in the head.

>The US 3 rd Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the July 2004 ruling by US District Judge Franklin Van Antwerpen, which found that Marsha Midgette’s suit was flawed because she wasn’t able to show that Wal-Mart’s actions caused the shooting inside the Pottstown, Pennsylvania store just after her husband had bought bullets there, according to The Legal Intelligencer.

According to court records, Bryan Midgette purchased the bullets on August 30, 1999 and then immediately chased down his wife and shot her in the head before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide.

Midgette’s suit claimed that the company was aware that her estranged husband had been abusing her and that he had been visiting the store in violation of a non-contact court order.

Van Antwerpen rejected that argument: “We find that, even if defendant had carried out all the duties that plaintiff believes defendant owed, Bryan very likely still would have succeeded in shooting his wife,” Van Antwerpen wrote. “As such, no reasonable jury could find that, but for the actions and/or omissions of Wal-Mart, Bryan would not have shot his wife that night.”

In agreeing with Van Antwerpen Circuit Judges Samuel Alito Jr., D. Brooks Smith and Theodore McKee said Van Antwerpen had “carefully and thoroughly explained [his] reasons for denying Midgette the relief she seeks and granting summary judgment to the defendants. We need not engage in a redundant analysis simply to reach the same result.”

>The appeals court ruling is  here.