Unless the verdict is overturned on appeal, an Alabama jury just made a multi-millionaire out of a man who took a fall after getting a watermelon at a Phenix City Walmart.
Henry Walker was awarded $7.5 million from a Russell County jury which decided that Walmart Stores Inc. was negligent after Walker reached for a watermelon, tripped, and got his foot stuck in a wooden pallet that had been left on the floor in June 2015.
His injuries from the incident included a broken hip.
Walker attorney Shaun O’Hara claimed that the placement of the watermelon container on top of the pallet caused Walker to slide his foot inside the pallet so that when he turned towards his buggy the foot got stuck, causing him to fall and break his hip.
Jury-reviewed footage also showed other people getting their feet caught in the pallet, according to O’Hara.
The jury found in favor of Walker on both “negligence” and “wantonness,” because Walmart had a duty to “exercise reasonable care, to maintain and keep its premises in a reasonable safe condition, and to warn the public of unsafe and hazardous conditions,” according to the complaint.
The 59-year-old Army veteran will receive a total of $7.5 million, including $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.
“You don’t expect to go into a grocery store walking fine on your two feet and come out on a stretcher,” Walker’s attorney said, calling the award “reasonable.”
“The jury of twelve members of this community certainly thought it was a fair verdict after hearing all of the evidence…this fall completely changed Henry Walker’s life as he is no longer able to do everyday activities that many of us take for granted,” said O’Hara.
Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove told AL.com, “We are disappointed in the verdict and believe that the damages awarded were excessive in light of the facts in this case. We plan to appeal.”
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