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Case Law Update: Negligence at Wal-Mart

Johnson v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. No. 08-4226 (12/1/09) found that the district court did not err in granting defendant’s motion to dismiss plaintiff’s negligence claim alleging that defendant’s illegal sale of bullets to plaintiff’s wife without asking her to present FOID card was proximate cause of wife committing suicide by shooting herself in chest. Under Illinois’ suicide rule, plaintiff’s suicide was independent intervening event that prevented plaintiff from establishing probable cause. The court rejected plaintiff’s argument that violation of public safety statute alone can generate reasonable inference of proximate cause in circumstance of plaintiff’s suicide. This seventh circuit case will impact Illinois negligence law.