Class action targets Wal-Mart's restocking practices

Kathy Woods Nov. 20, 2009, 12:01am

RICHMOND, Va. (Legal Newsline)-The mother of two young girls is suing Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for negligence and violating Virginias Consumer Protection Act, after her daughters were exposed to pornography.

In October, April Cortez and her husband went to Wal-Mart to purchase their 10- and 13-year-old daughters a video camera. They found one on sale and purchased it.

When they arrived home, their daughters were waiting so they handed them the package and let them open it. A few minutes later, the girls reportedly came crying to their mother.

Cortez then viewed the footage that had upset her daughters. Upon doing so, Cortez claims she too suffered immediate and severe emotional trauma from the pornographic images she saw on the camera.

Court papers say the couple sought professional help for their children but their insurance would not cover the costs.

The mother is suing Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart in a federal class action for violating Virginia's Consumer Protection Act by offering for sale returned goods without clearly indicating that the goods had been returned to the store by another customer.

"Wal-Mart maintains this policy of returning items to the shelf without disclosure of their true characteristics in order to increase its profits," attorney Matthey Erausqin of Consumer Litigation Associates wrote on behalf of his clients.

Cortez claims negligence, arguing the retailer had a duty to fully inspect returned items prior to returning them to the shelf for resale.

The lawsuit was filed this week in the Eastern Federal District of Virginia in Richmond.

Under the federal Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, federal courts have jurisdiction in the case because the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million.

Cortez is seeking statutory damages, attorneys fees and costs. She has demanded a jury trial.

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