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January 9, 2009 – Boxer & Gerson attorney Moira Stagliano settled a claim today for the family of a Fairfield woman who was stabbed to death at her retail clerk’s job at a Dollar Tree Store. The family was initially denied workers’ compensation death benefits by the store’s insurance company. The attorney for Dollar Tree claimed that the woman’s death was racially motivated and thus not subject to a workers’ compensation claim.
Taneka Talley was stabbed while at work in a Dollar Tree Store in Fairfield on the morning of March 29, 2006. The suspect in the case, Tommy Joe Thompson, was convicted for her murder in March of 2009. Thompson entered the store shortly after 9 a.m. and stabbed the 26-year-old Talley once in the chest. She died a short time later.
Talley left behind a son, Larry, who was 8 years old at the time. Stagliano argued that state workers’ compensation law entitled Larry to death benefits. Boxer & Gerson represented Carol Frazier, Larry’s grandmother and legal guardian.
Widespread publicity about the case prompted Dollar Tree executives to intervene, and a settlement was reached. The amount of the settlement wasn’t disclosed, but “it’s a number that we’re very satisfied with,” attorney Moira Stagliano said.
The Dollar Tree Stores’ insurance carrier, Specialty Risk Services, initially denied the Talley family’s death benefit claim. The attorney representing the insurance company, C. Kempton Letts, informed Stagliano, “Mr. Thompson’s motivation in stabbing Taneka Talley was purely race motivated. As such, it is our belief that our denial in this matter is proper.”
Stagliano characterized the insurance company’s position as “really reprehensible.” “It’s shocking that Dollar Tree and its insurance carrier would cite the alleged racist motivation of a killer as an excuse to get out of paying benefits to the orphaned son of an employee who was murdered at work,” she said. “They would pay the benefits if she was killed for a non-racist reason. They’re basically trying to benefit from a hate crime.”