Wal-Mart Settles Suit Over Slain Clerk

Aug. 30, 2006
Suit against Wal-Mart and Securitas had claimed negligence in protecting store's parking lots

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has settled a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a 19-year-old store clerk who was abducted, raped and killed following her night shift.

The parents of Megan LeAnn Holden said the terms of the settlement were confidential. The lawsuit filed by Sheri Kay Dunlap and James Vincent Holden had been set to go to trial Tuesday.

Dunlap and Holden sued Wal-Mart and the store's security company, The Wackenhut Corp., in 2005, claiming their negligence resulted in their daughter's death. They claimed Wal-Mart didn't take reasonable security precautions in failing to remove Johnny Lee Williams Jr. from the property or come to their daughter's aid.

Holden was kidnapped Jan. 19, 2005, from the parking lot of a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Tyler. Her body was found on the side of a highway in West Texas, about 400 miles from her home. Williams was later arrested in Arizona.

Following the settlement, attorney John "Rusty" Phenix said Dunlap "would like to see this as a beginning to Wal-Mart making its parking lots safer for its customers and employees, not just in Tyler, but everywhere," the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported in its Tuesday editions.

Phenix sent a letter to the court Friday announcing the sealed settlement.

Wal-Mart's attorney Edward Merritt confirmed the case had been settled but said he could not comment on the details.

"This was a tragic situation," said Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley. "We're glad the matter is closed. And we take some consolation in the fact that our video (surveillance) tape helped put the assailant behind bars."

The Wackenhut Corp. settled earlier for $1.3 million, according to court records.

Williams pleaded guilty last year to capital murder, saying he kidnapped, raped, strangled and shot Holden. Williams was sentenced to five concurrent life sentences.

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