Imagine walking into a store to shop and coming out on a stretcher. Henry Walker intended to buy a watermelon at a local Walmart when all hell broke loose. Henry fell while reaching out to get the watermelon placed inside a container on a pallet. His foot slid inside a pallet opening and stuck as he fell.
Apart from other injuries, Walker broke his hip. The incident begs the questions how safe are you in a shopping store? Who takes responsibility in case of accidents? Can one be compensated?
The Case and Verdict
Walker sued Walmart for negligence and was awarded $7.5 million as compensation by the court. The Russel County jury found Walmart Stores Inc. guilty of negligence and endangering lives of customers. The security footage from the store showed that other people had gone through similar experiences in the past and the jury may have heavily relied on it to deliver the judgment.
Through his attorney Shaun O’Hara, Walker sued Walmart on two counts. First was for negligence and secondly for wantonness. On both counts, the jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff. In the ruling, the panel noted that Walmart had a responsibility to ensure all clients and employees are safe on their premises. Also, the jury cautioned that the store had a duty to inform and warn the public of dangerous conditions. On wantonness, Walmart was found culpable of neglecting the danger posed by the hidden pallet. In his argument, O’Hara stated that Walker has been active in basketball before but now confined to using a walker.
Reactions from Parties
O’Hara welcomed the jury’s decision to award his client $2.5 million damage compensation and an additional $5 million for punitive. He further acknowledged the fact that most other stores will ensure the safety of customers on their premises remains uncompromised.
On the other hand, Walmart was not happy with the verdict. Through their spokesman, the store expressed disappointment in the damages awarded vowing to appeal. “We strongly believe that the award was excessive and we’ll be making an appeal soon,” Randy said.
Walker’s representatives were Shaun O’Hara, David Rayfield, and Charles while Walmart was represented by Stanley Sasser together with Paul Russel Jr. It remains to be a compelling case to keep an eye on as it sets precedents on other similar cases in the United States.