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Besieged ‘Fashion Vulture’ Sues Target

MIAMI (CN) - Enraged that a customer got most of Target's Jason Wu collection, a fashion mob attacked him and his wife while store security egged them on, and someone posted their pictures online with the label "fashion vultures," the man claims in court.

Kevin Wills sued Target Corp. in Miami-Dade County Court.

Wills says he went to the Target on North Miami Avenue early on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2012 and waited for hours for the store to open.

Target had advertised a limited Jason Wu fashion collection, and Wills and his wife wanted to be the first in on it, according to the lawsuit.

Wu, 31, is a Canadian-Taiwanese designer best known for designing several dresses for Michelle Obama, including the dresses she wore at both of her husband's inaugurations.

Wills says a Target employee had confirmed the night before that there would be no limit on the number of items one customer could buy from the special collection.

Wills claims that after he and his wife filled their shopping carts with Jason Wu clothing, angry customers followed them to the check-out area, fighting them for the clothes.

"While plaintiffs were in line frightened by the mob of patrons, one consumer dug her nails into plaintiff's arms and slammed the carts into his legs, while her husband threatened to 'kick his ass,'" the complaint states. "At this time, the location had not even notified security of the angry mob and the threats and harm to plaintiff.

"When security finally tended to the situation, plaintiff anticipated that defendant's security would defuse the situation but, rather, provoked the mob of patrons by humiliating plaintiff by physically removing plaintiff's arms from his carts, reaching into plaintiff's carts and distributing items to the lady that assaulted plaintiff as well as to other patrons. Concurrently, patrons were mocking plaintiff by photographing and insulting same."

Wills says store security instigated customers to assault and harass him, though he had not broken any law or store policy. He claims the manager on duty confined the couple to an area of the store until she confirmed Target's no-limit policy, despite the store's previous communication with them.

In the meantime, the mob, even angrier over the no-limit policy, continued to harass the defenseless couple, according to the lawsuit.

"When plaintiff was asked to go to the customer service line, the mob followed and were allowed to encircle them once again, becoming increasingly hostile," the complaint states. "They hurled insults and threats at plaintiffs, uncontested by neither [sic] security nor any Target employee. One patron remarked: 'Just get them in the parking lot.'

"The feeling of being imprisoned overtook plaintiff while security ignored his pleas for assistance and safety. Out of pure desperation, plaintiff attempted to provide certain items in his possession to the crowd to pacify the mob of patrons. However, the patrons then started requesting certain items plaintiff could not satisfy as the items were limited and there was not enough to meet the demands of the crowd."

Wills says the customers continued to harass him and his wife as they were trying to leave the store, and threatened physical violence.

"Within hours, the incident was broadcast on several mediums [sic] worldwide," the lawsuit states. "Plaintiff and his wife were branded as the 'Fashion Vultures,' among other defamatory and disparaging characterizations, for conduct that was completely lawful."

Though Target had dealt with similar incidents before, it failed to protect Wills and his wife from the mob or take measures to pacify shoppers, Wills claims.

After the February 2012 incident, Target adopted security measures for limited fashion collections sales events, according to the lawsuit.

Wills says he and his wife suffered emotional distress due to Target's negligence. He claims the company made millions of dollars at their expense through free online advertising.

Wills seeks damages for negligence, false imprisonment and emotional distress.

He is represented by Daniel Zumpano with Infante Zumpano of Coral Gables.

A spokesman for Target declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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