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Plattsmouth man sues Wal-Mart, says overfilled plastic bag led to wife's death

A Plattsmouth woman's widower has sued Wal-Mart and the maker of its plastic bags, alleging an overfilled bag given to her at a Bellevue store broke, and, in a strange twist, led to her death.

William Freis of Plattsmouth said his wife, Lynette, went grocery shopping April 16, 2010, at the Wal-Mart Supercenter on 15th Street and the cashier gave her one plastic bag for two 42-ounce cans of La Choy and a 2-pound bag of rice.

On her way to the car, the bag broke and one of the cans of La Choy fell on her right foot, breaking her big toe and causing a deep cut, the lawsuit says.

William Freis' attorney, Gage Cobb, said that led to an infection.

Despite multiple rounds of antibiotics and two surgical procedures, Lynette Freis' condition declined and infection spread throughout her body, which led to hospitalizations "and ultimately resulted in her death on March 12, 2011," according to the lawsuit.

Freis originally sued Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the distributor of its plastic bags, Missouri-based Bunzl Distribution, and the manufacturer, Hilex Poly Co. of South Carolina, in Sarpy County District Court.

Late last week, the case was transferred to U.S. District Court in Omaha.

The wrongful death suit alleges Wal-Mart was negligent for failing to properly train its employees to prevent them from overfilling grocery bags and knowing when to double bag a customer's groceries.

And, the suit says, the defendants provided Lynette Freis with a defective grocery bag.

Her estate is seeking more than $656,000 in medical expenses, plus an unspecified amount for her pain and suffering and funeral and burial expenses, as well as her husband's loss of consortium.

Neither Wal-Mart nor the other defendants has filed an answer to the allegations yet, but Wal-Mart attorney Heidi Guttau-Fox sought the move to federal court.

Reached Tuesday, Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove extended condolences to Lynette Freis' family.

"Customer safety is a top priority, and we take it seriously any time an injury is reported in one of our stores," he said.

Hargrove said the company is investigating the allegations and will respond appropriately in court.