CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been 10 months since six people were killed in a mass shooting at the Walmart in Chesapeake. Now, a fourth employee who was shot seven times has filed a lawsuit for $25 million.
Sarah Merlo worked at Walmart and the shooter was her supervisor. The suit details his disturbing behavior and apparent vendetta against her.
In a lawsuit filed Sept. 8, Merlo details how she went to Walmart management several times with concerns about the shooter’s behavior at work.
He would tell Merlo that he liked to kill animals and would describe how the carcasses would smell.
Merlo felt the shooter had a vendetta against her and would scrutinize her at work, giving her impossible deadlines and punishing her for not doing her job.
On Nov. 22, the shooter walked into the store with a high-capacity handgun.
The lawsuit states that Merlo was hiding under a table on her hands and knees. The shooter pointed his gun at her head and shot her in the face. She survived and started to crawl away when she was shot six more times — once in the neck, twice in the chest, once in the elbow and twice in the stomach.
She is suing Walmart for $25 million and suffers, or has suffered, from severe physical injury, severe pain, emotional distress, medical expenses, lost wages and lost earning capacity.
The lawsuit states the risk of being shot was not part of Merlo’s job and that everyone, including customers and neighbors, were at risk of being shot that day.
Under Virginia law, mass shootings are generally considered workplace accidents. To sue an employer, a plaintiff has to effectively argue that they were targeted for personal reasons — not just because they were an employee who happened to be on the job.
A spokesperson for Walmart sent the following statement: “The entire Walmart family remains heartbroken by everyone impacted. We continue to wish Ms. Merlo well in her recovery. We are reviewing the Complaint and will be responding as appropriate with the court.”
We reached out to Merlo’s attorney, who had no comment.
NOTE: Page 11 of the complaint (embedded below) includes a breakdown of the compensatory and punitive damages asked for by Merlo’s attorneys.