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Customers injured in crush suing Wal-Mart

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  • Men suffered injuries after being carried along in rush for bargains, suit claims
  • Customers also filed claim against police, say they didn't maintain order
  • One store employee killed in post-Thanksgiving rush for bargains
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two customers are suing Wal-Mart for negligence after being injured in a mad rush for post-Thanksgiving bargains that left one store employee dead, the men's attorney said Tuesday.

A temporary worker at this Wal-Mart was crushed to death when shoppers rushed into the store last week.

Temporary Wal-Mart worker Jdimytai Damour, 34, was crushed to death as he and other employees attempted to unlock the doors of a store on Long Island at 5 a.m. Friday.

Attorney Kenneth Mollins said Fritz Mesadieu and Jonathan Mesadieu were "literally carried from their position outside the store" and are now "suffering from pain in their neck and their back from being caught in that surge of people" that rushed into the Wal-Mart.

New York Newsday reported that the Mesadieus are father and son, ages 51 and 19.

The lawsuit alleges that the Mesadieus' injuries were a result of "carelessness, recklessness, negligence."

In a claim against the Nassau County police department, the men also contend that they "sustained monetary losses as a result of health care and legal expenses ... in the sum of $2 million."

"This is a tragic situation that could have and should have been avoided with the exercise of reasonable care. There are very simple measures that could have been put in place to avoid this, such as barriers along the line to spread people out, extra security and a better police presence," Mollins said.

He said his clients and others who were at the scene contend that the police "were there ... saw what was happening, and they left."

Calls seeking comment from Wal-Mart Stores Inc. were not immediately returned.

Lt. Kevin Smith of the Nassau County Police Department said, "it's our policy that we don't comment on open litigations" and would not respond directly to Mollins and his clients' claim that officers left the scene.

He said it is "incumbent upon the store to provide security" but noted that there was no security force present when officers responded to an initial phone call after 3 a.m. Friday for an unknown disturbance at the site.

Smith said the officers noticed a lack of order with the crowd and began to organize them into a line, remaining on site for about 30 minutes until the crowd had become orderly.

Throughout the morning, officers went back to check on the crowd and continued to notice no disturbance, Smith said.

He said that there were no additional calls for assistance until about 5 a.m., when people began rushing the doors of the store and trampled Damour.

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An autopsy showed that Damour died of asphyxiation after being trampled, Nassau County officials have said.

Video showed that as many as a dozen people were knocked to the floor in the stampede of people trying to get into the store. The employee was "stepped on by hundreds of people" as other workers attempted to fight their way through the crowd, said Nassau County Police Detective Lt. Michael Fleming.

CNN's Kristen Hamill contributed to this report

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