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Just minutes after Bryan Midgette purchased bullets at a Wal-Mart store in Pottstown, Pa., on Aug. 30, 1999, he chased down his wife, Marsha, an employee of the store, and shot her in the head before turning the gun on himself and committing suicide. Now Marsha Midgette has filed suit against the Arkansas-based Wal-Mart chain, claiming it could have prevented the attack by implementing a policy to protect its employees from spousal abuse. Attorney Louis Aurely III of Wusinich Brogan & Stanzione in Downingtown, Pa., filed the suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania citing claims of negligence and negligent entrustment. The suit says Bryan Midgette had physically abused his wife three days before the shooting and was arrested. Marsha Midgette also won a court order that required her husband to stay away from her. The suit says Wal-Mart knew of the abuse and also knew that Bryan Midgette had continued to visit the store where his wife worked after the court order was issued. But the store did nothing to prevent the attack, the suit alleges, even though it should have known that Bryan Midgette’s continued visits were a threat to his wife’s safety. “Wal-Mart knew or should have known that plaintiff Marsha Midgette was afraid that Bryan Midgette would cause her physical harm,” the suit alleges. Aurely contends in the suit that Wal-Mart “failed to take appropriate measures to provide plaintiff Marsha Midgette a safe place to work.” According to the suit, Bryan Midgette purchased ammunition for a .22-caliber handgun at about 9 p.m. on Aug. 30, 1999, and then asked a store manager when his wife would be arriving for work that evening. A half-hour later, the suit says, Bryan Midgette, 47, returned to the store and chased his wife, then 45, into an employee training room in the rear of the store, where he shot her in the head and then shot and killed himself. Marsha Midgette survived, but was critically injured and suffered significant brain damage, the suit says. The suit alleges that Wal-Mart was negligent in failing to call police when Bryan Midgette came to the store; failing to have adequate security; and failing to implement and enforce a policy of protecting employees who are victims of spousal abuse. The suit, Midgette v. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., 01-cv-4277, has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Franklin S. Van Antwerpen.

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