506 – You Can’t Go Back: 13


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Dreaming of attacking shoppers in an upscale mall or Apple store, the nutria bides his time…
Dreaming of attacking shoppers in an upscale mall or Apple store, the nutria bides his time…

Last October Rebecca White was shopping at her local Wal-Mart when a docile and easily frightened off nutria leapt out from behind a Coke rack and charged her and her cart. Terrified of the nearly twenty pound creature, Rebecca protectively rolled her very full shopping cart over her foot, breaking two of her own bones in an attempt to impress the animal with her resolve.

It ran away.

Wal-Mart workers who rushed to her aid laughed at the poor woman, saying that she had simply met Norman, a sort of “mascot” who lived in the store. (Presumably they also laughed at her broken foot, her panic attack, and her choice of laundry detergent as well.)

Rebecca’s attorney, Anthony Fontana, has aid that his client is suing Wal-Mart for “pain, suffering, mental anguish, fear, disabling injuries and medical expenses.” I’d add embarrassment at self injury in response to a killer nutria attack, as well as the fact that everyone knows she shops at Wal-Mart now.

To be fair, I can’t imagine being any more suave at having a two-foot long rat running at me than Rebecca was, and I’d probably want someone to foot the bill for my foot (heh heh) too. Come to think of it, I’d likely jump at any chance to sue Wal-Mart, just as a means of striking back for the little guy, and because it’s someplace I wouldn’t feel guilty about taking advantage of.


31 Responses to 506 – You Can’t Go Back: 13

  1. For real?

    I mean, Wal-Mart? The Time-and-Motion-Studies-You-Took-More-than-88-Seconds-in-the-Bathroom-in-a-six-hour-period-so-you’re-fired place? The company that brings us crappy low-priced Chinese labor conditions to go with its crappy low-priced Chinese products?

    Allows a FUCKIN’ BEAVER (ummm, Nutria, whatever) as a Store Mascot? That’s a paddlin’! And a firing for the store manager too, I should think. And another paddlin’.

    I’m sure Norman the Nutria is cute. I’m also certain that I, myself, would SHIT BRICKS if one suddenly waddled from behind a display stack of Pepsi Throwup at me.


    • I love nutrias and wombats. That said, here in Germany I have to go to a zoo to see them in the flesh.

      My first reaction as a biologist was puzzlement, “Wait, what? Nutrias (Myocastor coypus) are native to South America. Where did this one come from?” followed by “Store mascot?? Bastards!”

      However, a 5-second google revealed a more depressing picture:

      Nutrias were introduced to Louisiana (by accident? or with intent?) and, because they’re breeding fast in their new territory, have spread and become an invasive species:
      “Nutria eat aquatic vegetation, all forms. Initially after their introduction they performed a somewhat valuable service, their dining habits reducing the vegetation found in marsh and marshy areas along the Gulf coast. It is estimated that the range of the nutria in Louisiana encompasses approximately 48,000 acres, with the bulk of that land mass in south Louisiana ranging from Terrebonne Parish just south and west of New Orleans over to Lake Charles in the southwest corner of the state.

      Over time, the range of the nutria has expanded greatly, now covering from Maryland to New Mexico. Maryland has been exceptionally hard by their feeding habits, damaging the shallow bays and inlets and disrupting fertile feeding and breeding grounds of wading birds and other species.”

      Oh great.

      Hey, you know, if they also introduced the nutria to Florida and trained it to become a full-time aquatic species, it could take over the task of eating aquatic vegetation in weed-logged canals from the endangered Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris, a northern subspecies of the West Indian manatee that is adapted to tolerate strong variation in water salinity) once that one dies out. (SARCASM!) After all, the manatee has only lived around Florida for 45 million years, while Mankind has managed to spread the nutria via nutria fur farms all over the globe, to North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. Let’s play swap-the-species again! (SARCASM!)

      • Anyway. Suing a soulless corp like Wal-Mart? Good luck.

        Suing for “pain, suffering, mental anguish, fear, disabling injuries and medical expenses”? I can understand the injuries and medical expenses bit, but…. “pain, suffering and mental anguish”??? Is that another example of the American Way of suing someone else for your own stupidity.

        I don’t know, but in Germany a story like this would probably center on the question why a wild (read: non-domestic) animal was living in a store. Here, Wal-mart might be sued for cruelty to animals, not for allowing a customer the unique experience of rolling their own cart over their own foot. If the store or mall had belonged to a German company, it would be a non-issue, as their insurance is expected to cover injuries to customers that happen inside the shop. Or alternatively the woman’s health insurance agency would pick up the costs. But I’m not sure if Mrs. White has personal health insurance, considering she’s forced to shop at Wal-Mart. 😐

        • “Pain, suffering and mental anguish” I think is pretty common in US personal injury lawsuits. I would say it’s the litigious equivalent of adding fries to your combo meal. In most cases, they’re already suing for a ridiculous amount of money (and since it’s Wal-Mart, we can expect her attorney to be asking for a figure in the millions) and you want to give as many excuses as possible to justify the sum.

          • I wonder if I could sue Wal Mart for being so irritating to so many people over so many years? I imagine their defense would be that I could have no reasonable expectation that a giant, horrid corporation like that WOULDN’T be assholes.

    • I’m guessing Norman may soon (if not already be) an ex-nutria. Then probably a stuffed and so much easier to control mascot…

  2. If Zobbie wants to teleport away, he should be a wizard. They’re the only ones that can teleport. How dumb is he not to know that?

    Also, I’m not a racist or anything but I get really tired of all the stuff with the black people. Most people who play D&D are white and this comic is supposed to be for them so WTF with all the black people? It’s dumb. You should draw what the people who read this want to see.

    • Oh, my bad. I thought this comic was about what I wanted to draw, rather than what you wanted to see.

      By the way, I think you might want to look up what “racist” means in the dictionary, Dick.

  3. Good luck with going to court against Wal-Mart for laughing at a woman spooked by an adopted invasive species. Consider the case of Jdimytai Damour, a temporary employee Wal-Mart hired on Long Island who got trampled in the Black Friday rush, in which his survivors are facing heavy legal opposition from the company while OSHA places the fines for the incident at only $7000 (http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2009/05/walmart_stampede03.html); in comparison to that wrongful death matter that Wal-Mart seems to be fighting off well, it looks like Rebecca White could be facing a major uphill battle.

    • I’ve lived in New Orleans (and seen the herds of nutria sitting on the canal banks). I read the story a while back and don’t remember which town it was actually in, but if I recall correctly it was a town that would be more likely to side with her if it came down to a jury trial (obviously the individual jurors could ultimately side against her, but the larger percentage of juror candidates would side with her).

      Norman was more than likely not “allowed” into the store, he just hung around outside and some of the employees would feed it (sort of like a stray). Since the doors are automatic (and in a lot of cases always open) it would be easy for Norman to enter the building on his own. The Greeter was probably not paying attention or away from his post when Norman entered.

      Do I think she deserves millions? No. Medical bills paid, sure. Enough money to pay off her debts and maybe upgrade her house and car? Sure. Enough to never have to work again? No. Nutria, even when “aggressive” aren’t out to hurt a human. She lived in the area and should know this. Her overreaction is her own fault.

    • $7,000 is the maximum amount OSHA is allowed to fine, which is distressing in and of itself. That Wal Mart probably makes that much in an average 20 minute period. I actually expect both of these cases to settle out of court. I’m sure Wal Mart wouldn’t mind paying a little extra to avoid another news cycle.

      • Don’t underestimate a corporation’s willingness to avoid being targetted for lawsuits: If they can (metaphorically) haul her bloody corpse onto a pike and parade it around it’ll make the other ambulance-chasers head for the hills, and it must be admitted that American civil liability plaintiffs have crooks and opportunists amongst their number in addition to the genuine victims.
        Walmart wouldn’t want her to be walking away from this without loudly and publicly regreting the suit, or at a minimum not laughing on her way to the bank.

        • The actual suit sounds pretty open and shut. There doesn’t seem to be a case at all. The events were taped, and a waiver was signed. I think that the author of the article might have been right when he suggested that the suit may have only been for publicity.

          • Probably was, Kevin. And while she probably deserved the shut-down beat-down she got, there’s still the issue of the lack of civility evident in the practice of law. I know, our whole system is based out of the English tradition of trial by combat, but when the hell did we start making the combat part so essential to the process again?

            Maybe I’m just getting tired of spilling blood this easily as a part of conflict resolution. I wish I could say “Now the way we used to do it…” but the sad truth is, this is still better than it used to be. *sigh*

    • I remember reading about the death of Jdimytai Damour. 😥 What a horrible and senseless way to die.

  4. I sorta have to agree. If I’m in Wal-Mart and a two foot rat pops from behind a shelf, there would quite likely be a girly scream.
    Sueing for medical expenses? Yeah, can understand that. And argee, the anguish stuff goes along with it, regardless of how silly it might be.
    A Wal-mart having a mascot? I’m very susprised. Worked for teh local Wal-Mart, much to my shame; no way those uptight a-holes would allow anything like a mascot…. though we did have a mouse that knew to avoid the traps, and so was kinda like a pet….
    But any excuse to sue Wal-Mart is pretty much okay in my book. They’ve been pure downhill since Sam died.

  5. I seem to be in the minority here, but I hope the judge in the case laughs her out of court. Seriously – she hurt herself! Wal-Mart didn’t hurt her, the employees (while they did laugh) didn’t break her foot, and Norman didn’t do anything other than walk down the aisle and run away. She…broke…her…own…foot. I’m sorry, but that’s her own stupidity. You can hate Wal-Mart all you want (I do as well), but it’s not their fault. Medical bills? No – you did it yourself. Pain and suffering? No – get a life lady. Nutria are everywhere in La. and if you’ve never seen one before, go back to your shut-in sheltered life and leave the real world to those of us who can handle it.
    /rant off

    On a more upbeat note – for those looking to trap their own nutria, the link to the traps for sale actually had pretty good prices.

    • Yeah, you’re in the minority when you’re calling for unreciprocated fairness in dealing with Wal Mart. Still, this admittedly has the smell of revenge, not justice, and that’s good for no one.

      (Unless you get the money.)

      • Fairness? Fairly dealing with business/corporate entities like WalMart would be a… change. Probably a revolution. I’m not ready to start building and using guillotines yet and hopefully I won’t be ever.

  6. While having an overgrown rat have the run of a store is not right, no matter how cute it is, this whole ‘mental anguish’ thing is just laughable. Though Norman is an adorable name for a rodent.

  7. I’d rate a broken foot as pretty low on the “pain and anguish” scale, worth medical bills plus maybe 2-3 months of that woman’s lost wages. Of course, lawsuit amounts depend more on the amount of money the defendant has than the actual scope of the wrong.

    If you feel Wal-Mart did anything ELSE to merit some multi-million dollar award, then sue them for THAT and let this case stay small-potatoes like it deserves. As for employee treatment… just try to hire a few million people to staff your business and TRY to tell me one (or a hundred) of them isn’t going to mistreat another… union or not. Oh, excuse me, Wal-Mart is still profitable in the middle of a big recession – there must be something evil involved!

  8. I live in Oregon, and we even have Nutria over here. I’d just as soon shoot the things wherever I see ’em, but apparently it’s illegal to fire a gun within city limits. Meh. I don’t think that lady’s gonna win her lawsuit as most judges are smart enough to throw those kinds of cases out of court. But you never know. On a side note I have a feeling that Dick is just one of those jerks who likes to bitch just to get attention. If there’s any way to /ignore or something, I would suggest it.

    • There is… but I am hesitant to do it. Unless someone starts calling people names, I’d like this to be a freewheeling place for everyone to hang out and say whatever is on their mind, even if I don’t like what they have to say.

  9. I skimed the Nutria Trap link, and find myself wondering what they are trying to say by:
    However, this design has two unique designs to it.

    (This comment appears for the 11″x12″x36″ trap.)

  10. Well… Nutrias are giant rats. Wal-Mart spreads poverty like a disease: people who are paid below the poverty level have to rely on relatives, friends, and the government to make ends meet. Wal-Mart’s “savings” come from lowered salaries, the profits go to China, where they fund the evil slave mongering factions of their government against the ones that want to make things not suck so much. And her foot is broken. I say more power too her, to ease my guilty conscience since I work indirectly for AutoZone who plays the same game but the partner is Mexico.