Retail Management Expert Evaluates Assault by Intoxicated Customer

Grocery Store Management Expert WitnessThis security management case involves a customer at a big box retail store who was attacked by an intoxicated individual inside the store, which resulted in severe injuries. At the time of the incident in question, the plaintiff was shopping in the grocery section of the store when her attacker began to follow her around the store, shouting obscenities. One of the store employees began to follow the pair as well, as was a security guard from an outside firm that had been contracted by the store to provide security services. The plaintiff attempted to run from the intoxicated individual, at which point he attacked her, causing serious injuries. The security guard did not intervene during the attack. It was claimed that store employees did not do enough to prevent the attack.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please discuss your background in working in managing and training grocery store employees.
  • 2. What type of training should employees go through to avoid an incident like?

Expert Witness Response E-116266

I have 35 years of experience with grocery stores and over 25 years of experience with store management. I have trained hundreds of employees and, in fact, started a new program at a national chain of high-end grocery stores. All companies have orientation and additional training to diffuse situations like this case. I train my employees to utilize good customer skills to track suspicious characters. Approaching the customer, asking if everything is alright, and letting the customer know that you are there can be preventative. If the man was a frequent visitor, he should have been asked to leave immediately. If not, and was nevertheless exhibiting suspicious activity, he should have been followed and monitored closely.

Expert Witness Response E-116272

I’ve been in the retail sector 17 plus years and most recently the grocery store business, and I’m the district manager for the LA territory of a large grocery chain. I work very close with the management teams within the stores as well as our employees. Most retail stores have basic training for all employees on different types of situations that may arise and how to handle. This may as simple as a video or the LP department / management presenting on the topics. My quick thoughts is the upper management should have asked the irate customer to leave or tried to diffuse the situation. I think calling security was also the right thing to do, but if the officer didn’t help calm the situation down, or ask the irate customer to leave, it obviously didn’t help.


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