Overnight RV Parking at Walmarts in Jeopardy Due to Lawsuit

Walmart parking lots have long been a haven for recreational vehicles, but a new lawsuit has invited scrutiny on the popular practice popularly known as “Wallydocking,” according to a report by BusinessInsiders.com.

A woman named Essie McKenzie is suing Walmart after her 6-year-old daughter was killed and another daughter, then 9 years old, was left “disfigured” when their minivan became engulfed in flames.  The incident took place during the early morning of Aug. 6, 2019, at a Walmart in Fridley, Minnesota.

According to the lawsuit, the fire began when a man and woman from California, who had camped in the Walmart lot the evening before, moved their 2005 Dodge Caravan to a spot next to McKenzie’s vehicle, a 2014 Caravan. McKenzie was out of the van at the time, shopping in the store. Her daughters were asleep inside the vehicle.

According to the lawsuit, the California man had used a camping stove to make breakfast on the pavement that morning and stored the stove in the back of his vehicle “without waiting for it to cool and tossed some bedding on top of the cook stove.” He then moved the vehicle to a spot adjacent to McKenzie’s and entered the store.

While he was in Walmart, the van caught fire and the blaze spread to neighboring vehicles, including McKenzie’s.

Read the full Business Insider report.

About Mello Mike 908 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. A communications expert and licensed ham radio operator (KK7TCA), he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, holds a BS degree, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side. He currently rolls in a 4WD Ram 3500 outfitted with a SherpTek truck bed with a Bundutec Roadrunner mounted on top.


  1. I agree. Horrific accident that could’ve been prevented w a little forethought. But not Walmart’s fault.

  2. Carelessness and stupidity is the cause of many tragic accidents and when it happens we blame others rather than being responsible for our actions!

  3. Walmart spent a tens of thousands of dollars to avoid paying 86-yr-old Greeter Herman Teague’s $3500 medical bill and $400/mo in workers compensation after he slipped and fell at work while taking a sip of soda, a “life activity” even though he was on the clock. I think the free RV parking will continue.

  4. Thank you Harvey for saying what needed to be said. Take responsibility for your own children, show extreme care for the most precious things in your life. Alone, locked in a vehicle in a parking lot, is not good enough.

  5. I Don’t comment much on anything because I think I’m not educated well enough in the topic at hand. This topic however I am well educated with. First off I have never camped in a Walmart parking lot but have been to Walmart’s up and down the east coast for many years. Most of what I see is well “self” regulated from those that share the lot. Respecting the space of others and common courtesy go a long way. On the other hand I have been to two that I would call a third world country with nothing but the most undesirable campers one could find. First off they were not campers but rather homeless on wheels and their lifestyle greatly affected the community around them. Drugs and alcohol as well as half naked kids apparently is well received in this community. Reading something like what happened is tragic and simply could have been avoided by staying at a campground or even easier moving to another Walmart, there’s one every 10 miles or so. Terrible waste of life.

  6. I am not a Walmart camper but it no doubt wouldn’t be great for a lot of folks, if using Walmart parking for overnight stays disappeared.
    Reading the story, without any legal background to back my thoughts, I can’t see how in any way Walmart was negligible or responsible for this tragic accident. If anyone bares responsibility it seems that would be the guy with the cooker.
    At the same time I’d have to wonder how great an idea it was to leave a 6 and 9 year old alone in the van.

    • So, to be clear, inviting people to use dangerous flammable gas powered wlequipment is a ok, but mom should have known that it was likely that her sleeping 9yr old and her sibling were likely to be set ablaze? You must be an insurance adjuster. Or a Walmart manager.

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