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Several people sickened by carbon monoxide fumes inside Walmart

It is unusual to talk about shopping center disasters outside of Black Friday sales, but invariably shoppers can be hurt in stores even without a crush of people involved. Last week, shoppers at a Walmart in Florida were exposed to carbon monoxide and were taken to the hospital. In all, 13 shoppers were treated for poisoning.

According to an ABC report, carbon monoxide levels were at critical levels by 4:00 a.m. at the 24-hour Walmart in Orange County. While the cause of the incident is still under investigation, officials believe that construction workers using propane tools while inside the store may have caused fumes to collect in the store. 

Indeed, the small number of shoppers in the store at the time prevented this from being a disaster. First responders treated employees working in the store, but other shoppers reportedly refused treatment.

The story is yet another example of the duty that business owners have to ensure their premises is safe for shoppers. This includes making sure that repairs or renovations are completed at times where few (if any) customers would be around to reduce the risk of them being hurt. Additionally, storeowners must make certain that customers are not exposed to dangerous fumes, whether they emanate from repairs or cleaning materials.

Should a storeowner fail to meet or adhere to this duty, and a customer is injured as a result, the store could be held liable. This means that the injured customer would have the right to seek money damages for his or her injuries. 

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