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Family Blames Wal-Mart for Death

HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (CN) - A woman with asthma died after a Wal-Mart manager ignored her complaints and told her she had to work in the deep freezer, her family claims in court.

The family of the late Tamra Slaughterbeck, 45, sued Wal-Mart Stores and its manager Cindy Stone, in Garland County Court.

The family claims the Wal-Mart knew Slaughterbeck was asthmatic and that there were jobs in the store that she was "not physically capable of doing." They say Stone knew, or should have known it too, but made Slaughterbeck work in the deep freeze despite her repeated complaints.

"The week of her death, the decedent was assigned to work in the deep freezer section of the storage area in the store, even though cold, dry air is a well known trigger for asthma attacks," the complaint states. "Once again, the decedent explained to her supervisor and Stone that she could not work in the deep freezer because of the effect the freezing temperatures had on her asthma."

But Wal-Mart told her "that she had to work in the freezer," the complaint states. So, "Fearing for her job and her livelihood, the decedent suffered through the day working in the deep freezer."

On Aug. 22, 2011, "the day of her death, the decedent again explained to management and Stone that she could not work in the deep freezer because of her asthma. She was told she had to," the complaint states.

"The decedent again struggled for a few hours to do her job as told, but her asthma became so bad she could no longer work. The decedent left the store immediately and drove straight to her house, hoping that rest would alleviate the asthma attack. The decedent made it inside her house before collapsing on the floor and dying."

Slaughterbeck's estate seeks damages for negligence and wrongful death.

They are represented by Jessica Virden with The Law Offices of Peter Miller in Little Rock.

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