On Friday, June 14, 2019, an off-duty LAPD officer fatally shot one man and wounded to others. According to the off-duty officer, he was assaulted while he was shipping with his family at a Costco store in Corona – which resulted in his response with gunfire. The incident occurred at approximately 7:45 p.m. at a Costco located at 480 N. McKinely Street when a male assaulted the officer while the officer was holding a young child. The officer fired his weapon, striking the man who assaulted him and two other parties (who have been determined to be family members). The deceased man was identified as Kenneth French, 32, of the Riverside area – he was pronounced dead at the scene. His two injured family members were hospitalized in critical condition. This unfortunate event occurred in the evening hours of Friday – easily one of the busiest times for Costco and other wholesale retail stores. This means that there were plenty of shoppers inside the Costco when shots were fired. The shots resulted in a panic throughout the store – leading shoppers to try and escape through emergency doors. However, the emergency doors at the Corona Costco never opened.
Understanding the Dangers of Issues with Emergency ExitsAt the incident in Costco, panicked shoppers were pushing and falling over each other while simply trying to exit the premises. As people push towards the door, the situation becomes even more dangerous for all parties involved. Crowds are dangerous – especially when the crowd is pushing towards one specific area. If anyone falls, they can get trampled by the crowd. Possible injuries include traumatic injuries to the head or chest. Other possible injuries include cracked ribs and punctured lungs, for example. Although trampling deaths are common and the most severe way in which people can be harmed, asphyxiation is much more common. As people in a crowd push forward, those in the front of the crowd are being pushed with incredible force (due to the pushing and the domino-effect nature of the pushing). Those at the front of a crowd being pushed are pushed with so much force that they are compressed, and their chests are crushed – preventing them from being able to breathe. Within three minutes of improper oxygenation of the brain, there will be severe brain injury. If this persists for even two to three more minutes, the deprivation of oxygen can be fatal.
The Store’s Duty of Care to ShoppersAll stores have the duty to ensure that their premises are free of any hazards or potential hazards. They have a general duty to identify and address hazards to ensure that shoppers are not subject to any sort of harm while on the premises. Without a doubt, stores cannot control everything that happens within their premises. For example, they couldn’t have possibly known that there would be an incident resulting in gunfire inside their store (as the incident in Costco in Corona). A major part in ensuring the safety of shoppers is ensuring that there are emergency exits that allow shoppers to leave the premises to get to safety in any sort of emergency. When a store fails to ensure that their emergency doors are functional, they are breaching their duty of care to their shoppers. They are also negligently creating a risk of harm to their shoppers. If any shoppers are injured or are killed as a result of this negligence, it is possible for victims or surviving family members to pursue claims and even receive compensation.
Recover CompensationDepending on the specific details of the claim, victims and their families might be eligible to recover compensation. Some of the compensation available for recovery might include the following:
- Medical expenses
- Lost income
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of consortium
- Punitive damages