Human Resources, Law, and Retail

Couple seeking $25M in suit against Meijer and security guards

October 19, 2017
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Meijer store exterior
Walker-based Meijer, which operates more than 230 stores, began in 1938 when barber Hendrik Meijer purchased $328.76 worth of merchandise on credit to serve customers during the Great Depression. Courtesy Meijer

A law firm has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a couple against Meijer and several security guards for an alleged “vicious beating” at a store.

Attorneys Geoffrey Fieger and Gary Felty Jr. of Southfield-based Fieger Law filed the suit on Oct. 16 against Meijer, Lonnie Wade, John Doe, a Meijer security guard, John and Jane Roe, Meijer security guards, and T. Tabb, in the Third Judicial Circuit Court.

The attorneys filed a seven-count complaint on behalf of their clients, David Jarel Bivins and his fiancé, Hillary Ross, for an incident that occurred on Oct. 8 at the Woodward and Eight Mile store in Detroit.

The suit claims Bivins was assaulted by Wade, an off-duty Detroit police officer who worked at Meijer as a secondary employment. Wade was working as a security guard at the store.

Wade allegedly used his baton to beat Bivins seven to eight times. According to the suit, Bivins’ upper and lower teeth were smashed, his jaw was fractured and he suffered injuries to his arms, legs and back.

“We have reviewed the video of the incident,” said Frank Guglielmi, a Meijer spokesperson. “We’ve since provided the Detroit Police Department access to all security footage and have fully cooperated with them as they investigate this incident involving their officer.”

The altercation occurred in the vestibule of the supermarket just before Wade and John Doe approached Bivins, according to the suit. Wade allegedly asked Bivins to provide a receipt for the items that were placed in his shopping cart.

Bivins could not find the receipt, and Doe allegedly placed himself in close proximity to Wade in an act of intimidation.

The suit claims the situation escalated, as Wade blocked Bivins from exiting the store.

Ross allegedly took the receipt with her when she went to use the restroom, and suit says the couple was able to show the security guard the receipt after she returned.

According to the suit, Bivins was “unlawfully arrested” with the assistance, acquiesces and approval by Tabb.

The suit’s seven counts include false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery, libel/slander/false invasion of privacy, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress and negligence.

"This unjustified and intolerable attack was documented on video both inside and outside the store,” Fieger said. “I call upon the powers that be to bring charges against the assailant. At trial, I will ask the jury to punish the defendants for their conduct in the form of punitive damages in an amount in excess of $25 million.”

The suit says, “Defendant, Meijer, Inc. is a merchant that is liable for the actions of its security guards, security agents and security employees…who were acting within the scope of their agency or employment for a merchant as security personnel, doing the type of work the defendant Meijer, Inc. knew or reasonably expected would include the use of force against patrons, the potential detention of patrons, the potential arrest of patrons and the possible prosecution of patrons.”

A video of the incident is online.

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