Walmart representatives say the retail giant intends to appeal a $7.5 million jury award to an Alabama man whose foot became stuck in a wooden pallet at a Phenix City Walmart store, causing him to shatter his foot and hip.
Henry Walker, a 59-year-old Army veteran, sued Walmart after the accident, claiming it robbed him of his ability to participate in and enjoy everyday activities.
On June 25, 2015, Mr. Walker was getting a watermelon from a bin at Walmart when his foot became trapped in the pallet below. Not realizing his foot was in between the slats of the pallet, Mr. Walker turned and fell to the ground, landing on his hip and shattering it.
“You don’t expect to go into a grocery store walking fine on your two feet and come out on a stretcher,” one of Mr. Walker’s attorneys told AL.com.
A Russell County Circuit Court jury heard the case, in which Mr. Walker argued that Walmart acted with negligence and wantonness for its use and placement of the pallet. The jury deliberated for two hours Wednesday after the two-day trial and returned a verdict awarding Mr. Walker $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
Security footage from the Walmart store showing several other people getting their feet lodged in the same pallet likely compelled the jury to award the high punitive damages.
Walmart had a responsibility to its customers to provide a safe environment and should have known the pallet could cause injuries, Mr. Walker’s lawyers told the jury. Walmart maintained that the watermelon display was not dangerous.
“I think this jury appreciated what Mr. Walker went through and they compensated him accordingly,” another attorney who represented Mr. Walker told Columbus, Georgia’s Ledger-Enquirer. “This is a great verdict for the community because this jury wanted to make sure it was safe for shoppers.”