U.S. Fifth Circuit - The FindLaw 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

Walmart Not Liable for 'Dusting' Death

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals just affirmed the Southern District Court of Texas's ruling that Walmart cannot be held liable for the death of Karalee Williams.

Karalee died in her car in a Texas Walmart's parking lot. She died due to excessive huffing of canned air, a.k.a. dusting (you know, those aerosol air dusters meant for tech), which is a serious problem across the country. Notably, during a 27 hour period, Karalee made several visits to the same Walmart and purchased approximately 60 cans of the stuff and a towel. Despite unbelievable undisputed facts, the courts agreed that Walmart did not owe Karalee any duties.

Texas Justice

The case involves some rather puzzling facts that really beg the question of just how in the world Walmart doesn't bear any liability here.

On Karalee's second visit into the store, she soiled herself, told a Walmart employee she just had a seizure in the parking lot, and was still allowed to buy the canned air. On her next visit, she was not wearing any pants. After being given a towel and a sundress, she was allowed to buy more canned air. And apparently, she made six more trips in to buy even more canned air after that. Sadly, it took more than 24 hours for her to be discovered, dead, insider her vehicle.

Unfortunately for Karalee's mother, who filed the wrongful death action, in Texas there's just no liability for retailers or even social hosts who know their invitees/guests are going to harm themselves with what they purchase (or get served), unless the invitee/guest is a minor.

Related Resources: