Woman sues La. Wal-Mart for scare over 'Norman the nutria'

Sunday, May 10, 2009

NEW ORLEANS -- A Louisiana woman is suing a Wal-Mart store over what she claims was a much-too-close encounter of the furry kind.

Rebecca White says in her lawsuit that employees at a Wal-Mart in Abbeville let a rat-tailed rodent known as a nutria run loose and scare her. She says that not only did employees know it was in their store but gave it a pet name, Norman, and failed to warn shoppers.

White says she was pushing a full shopping cart down an aisle in October when the nutria ran out from behind a rack. She says she pulled the cart backward in a panicked attempt to protect herself and hurt her back and foot.

The local store referred all questions about Norman to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

A spokeswoman there said the company has not seen the nutria lawsuit, which was filed in state court in Abbeville, but is investigating. The parish nuisance animal control officer said no one has called him about the animal.

Nutria have bright orange buck teeth and can weigh up to 18 pounds.

White wants compensation for pain, suffering, mental anguish, fear, disabling injuries and medical expenses. Her attorney said the surgery bills aren't in yet, but other medical bills totaled nearly $2,000.

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