A 59-year-old Alabama man was awarded $7.5 million in a lawsuit against Walmart after he tripped while trying to buy a watermelon.
Henry Walker had claimed his foot became trapped in a pallet beneath the watermelons as he reached for one of the fruits at a Phoenix City store in June of 2015. Walker, 59 at the time, broke his hip.
“You don’t expect to go into a grocery store walking fine on your two feet and come out on a stretcher,” lawyer Shaun O’Hara told AL.com.
Walmart maintained that the display was not dangerous, but Walker’s lawyers say the store should have covered the pallet. The same displays are still used at the store, according to court records.
“It was a fair verdict because Walmart just didn’t care,” attorney Charlie Gower told the Ledger-Enquirer. “They should have had something to cover up that pallet so someone’s foot couldn’t get caught in it, and they didn’t.”
A jury on Wednesday awarded Walker $2.5 million in compensatory damages, and $5 million in punitive damages.
Walmart says it plans to appeal, claiming any negligence was Walker’s fault.
“We are disappointed in the verdict,” Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said Thursday. “We appreciate the jury’s service, however we believe that the damages awarded were excessive in light of the facts in this case. We plan to appeal.”
Walker used to play basketball several times a week, but the Army veteran now needs help to walk, according to AL.com.
“I think this jury appreciated what Mr. Walker went through and they compensated him accordingly,” David Rayfield, one of Walker’s lawyers, told the Ledger-Enquirer. “This is a great verdict for the community because this jury wanted to make sure it was safe for shoppers.”
$7.5 million? Sheesh.