Wal-Mart has been hit with a class action suit over its advertising, which promotes a policy of selling only those CDs that do not warrant parental advisory stickers because they do not contain explicit lyrics.
The class action was filed Dec. 9 in the Circuit Court for Washington County by Melanie and Trevin Skeens, parents of children aged 7 and 13. The Skeens claim that while listening to the Evanescence album “Anywhere but Home” (Wind-up/BMG), they discovered that the track “Thoughtless” (a cover of a song by Korn) contains the “f-word.” The disc, which they bought at Wal-Mart, was not stickered.
The suit names as defendants Wal-Mart Stores, Wind-up and BMG Distribution.
A Wal-Mart spokeswoman says that while the retailer reviews the CDs it sells to ensure that they comply with its policy, it is looking into whether the Evanescence album was reviewed. She declined further comment on the suit.
The Skeens’ attorney, Jon Pels of Bethesda, Md., notes that Wal-Mart censors “Thoughtless” on its Web site, which offers a 30-second sample of the song.
The complaint seeks relief for each class member not to exceed $74,500. Pels says this maximum figure was chosen solely to avoid federal court jurisdiction. The actual damage to each individual may be only the CD purchase price, he explains.
The Skeens “want [Wal-Mart’s] policy to mean something,” Pels says. “I’d like to know why there wasn’t a parental advisory label on this album,” he adds. “I’d like to know why Wal-Mart decided to censor it on its Web site but not in its store. I want to pry open Wal-Mart’s corporate walls and find out what the heck is going on.”
Sony BMG and Wind-up declined to comment on the suit.