The state Supreme Court upheld a $2.16 million verdict against Wal-Mart for illegally selling ammunition to two teenagers who then committed a mistaken-identity murder.
The suit accused Wal-Mart of negligence because the sale violated a federal law that bans the sale of handgun bullets to anyone under 21. The two teens who bought the .32 caliber bullets were 17 and 18 at the time.Sandra Coker, whose husband Billy Wayne Coker was shot during a 1991 robbery-murder at a Pensacola auto parts store where he worked, sued Wal-Mart over her husband's death. Coker was substituting for a manager who called in sick.
A former employee recruited three teens to rob and kill the manager. They shot Coker instead.
Judge Edward Nickinson initially dismissed the suit in 1992, saying the murder was an unforeseeable result of the sale. He was overruled by an appeals court held that Congress passed the law because it anticipated such consequences if ammunition were sold to purchasers deemed too dangerous or irresponsible because of their age or other factors.
The Florida Supreme Court upheld the appeal Wednesday. Attorneys were notified of the decision on Friday.
Robin Lee Archer, who had recruited the trio to commit the crime, and one of the teens, James Bonifay, now 24, are on death row.