A nutria rat named Norman was allegedly being kept as a pet by Wal-Mart employees when he startled a customer, causing her to run over her foot with her shopping cart. The woman says the oversized rat was running towards her and she thought it was going to attack. The incident happened back in 2009 and the trial is now set for July.
The woman is seeking compensation for medical expenses and pain and suffering. She says she experiences panic attacks as a result of the incident. At the time, she needed surgery for broken bones and nerve damage to her foot. Wal-Mart has said that the woman was at fault for reacting badly to the rodent. Asserting that the injured person was acting carelessly is a common defense in slip and fall cases.
Nutria are a member of the mouse family of rodents and can be up to 18 inches long and weigh 20 pounds at their largest. They live in wetlands all over the south.
A premises liability case, often called a "slip and fall," is one way that injured people can hold property owners responsible. Owners have the responsibility to keep their property safe for visitors and to remove any objects or obstacles that will likely cause an injury. Often property owners know about existing hazards but might not fix it right away.
In the Walmart case, the injured woman alleges that employees knew about the rat and were intentionally keeping in on the premises. As with many slip and fall actions, the woman has lasting injuries and emotional trauma.
Source: KATC.com, "Abbeville WalMart's Norman the Nutria case goes to court in July," Feb. 13, 2012.