Wal-Mart sued for allowing snake to roam freely in Silsbee store

Michelle Massey, East Texas Bureau Mar. 2, 2011, 6:59am

A mother has filed a lawsuit accusing personnel at the Silsbee Wal-Mart of knowingly allowing a snake to roam the store and bite her toddler son.

Aimee Ray Battle, individually and as next friend on behalf of a minor, filed suit against Wal-Mart Stores Texas, Wal-Mart Super Center and store manager Mike Thomas on Jan. 11 in Hardin County District Court. The suit was removed to federal court for the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division on Feb. 22.

The incident occurred on Jan. 27, 2009, as Battle and her child were shopping at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on U.S. 96 in Silsbee. Battle states that Wal-Mart knew a snake was roaming freely through the store and did not warn customers. Battle's 23-month-old son got near the snake and it bit him on the arm.

The suit does not indicate the type of snake that bit the child, but states he suffered "serious and permanent bodily injuries."

"The presence of small children on Defendants' premises was reasonably foreseeable, in that, Wal-Mart is a major department store where children frequently accompany adults and browse the large toy department," the original complaint states. "The condition of Defendants' premises created an unreasonable risk of harm to both adults and children because of the risk of being bitten, as was the minor Plaintiff. Defendants knew or should have known that this condition involved an unreasonable risk of death or serious injury to people and particularly children."

The plaintiff is seeking damages for physical impairment, disfigurement, physical and mental pain, suffering, anguish, medical expenses and interest.

Battle is represented by B. Adam Terrell of Weller, Green, Toups & Terrell in Beaumont.

A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Ron Clark is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:11-cv-00093

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