A federal appeals court has issued a ruling that will bring to an end a wrongful death lawsuit brought by a man whose wife was murdered in a supermarket in 2015.

Wendy Boudreau

Wendy Boudreau, 59, was grocery shopping at Shaw’s in Saco when Connor MacCalister attacked her with a knife. MacCalister, who is now 36, pleaded guilty to murder less than two months later and is now serving a life sentence in prison.

Jeffrey Boudreau, the victim’s husband, sued Shaw’s in federal court in 2017. He argued that Shaw’s should have foreseen the attack and failed to protect its customers. A judge ultimately dismissed the lawsuit in 2018.

“Wendy Boudreau’s August 2015 murder in the Saco Shaw’s ice cream aisle was a shocking, tragic event. Could or should police and health care personnel, with the information available to them, have appreciated MacCalister’s danger to others and taken steps to thwart it? I don’t know,” U.S. District Judge D. Brock Hornby wrote. “But the summary judgment record does not support the conclusion that either generally or on the day in question Shaw’s’ personnel knew or reasonably should have anticipated that MacCalister posed a danger to other customers in its Saco store.”

Jeffrey Boudreau then took the case to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. The court canceled oral arguments in the case because of the pandemic, and the judges decided the appeal based on written briefs. The panel affirmed Hornby’s opinion April 10. Boudreau filed a petition for a rehearing en banc, which means the full slate of judges would have heard the case again. But the court voted to deny that petition May 19.

Laura White, an attorney who represented Boudreau, wrote in an email Wednesday that they decided not to pursue any further avenues of appeal.

“We are extremely surprised and disappointed with the court and the First Circuit’s ruling on foreseeability in a premises liability context, especially at a time when retail security is more important than ever,” White wrote. “However, we have decided not to pursue a further appeal.”

Connor MacCalister was sentenced to life in prison for murdering Wendy Boudreau in a Saco supermarket in August 2015. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

White outlined examples from the court documents of previous incidents with MacCalister at that store. She said more than a dozen witnesses testified in the case, and her client offered an expert witness on retail security.

“A jury should have been allowed to hear what they had to say and decide whether it was foreseeable that MacCalister would harm a customer,” she wrote.

Two attorneys who represented Shaw’s did not respond to an email about the case Wednesday afternoon.

More than 600 people attended the funeral service for Wendy Boudreau in 2015. She was remembered as a caring mother and grandmother who lived joyfully and held her family together.

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