Mary Tutwiler

Nutria spotted in suit!

by Mary Tutwiler

This story gives one pause. Or paws for that matter, webbed paws.

Abbeville attorney Anthony Fontana has taken up the cause of a woman who is suing Wal-Mart — not unusual; there have been lots of instances where Wal-Mart has been the defendant in a lawsuit. However, in this case, the woman claims she was terrorized by a wild animal running amok in Wal-Mart. In a personal injury suit filed against the discount giant, Abbeville resident Rebecca White claims she panicked and injured herself with her shopping cart.

No, it wasn’t a rogue iguana from the pet section, or a loose mouse. It wasn’t even an alligator which wandered into the store, a sometimes occurrence in south Louisiana. White says she had a run in with the resident nutria who lives somewhere near the Coke rack in the store. Wal-Mart employees tried to comfort White, telling her she had an “encounter with Norman.”

No dice. According to the Abbeville Meridional, White is suing Wal-Mart for negligence on the grounds that the store and its employees did not:

• Warn her of the nutria prior to her entering the store
• Did not take steps to protect her from the nutria
• Did not warn her that she was shopping at her own risk
because there is a wild animal loose in the store
• Did not attempt to capture the nutria

As a result of the above, White suffered, according to the suit:
• Pain, suffering and mental anguish.
• Fear of being bitten by a wild animal causing a panic attack.
• Painful disabling injury to her back and foot.
• Interference with her daily activities.
• Medical expenses past, present and future.

I’m not sure what I like best about this story, the laissez-faire attitude of the Wal-Mart staff about having a live-in rodent, his name, Norman the Nutria, or the photo, provided by the Meridional, of a stuffed nutria, with the caption, “A nutria like this was seen in Wal-Mart.”