Henry Walker was just 59-years-old when he suffered a broken hip and foot after a produce related incident in a Walmart. He sued the retail giant and won. The jury has awarded him a $7.5million verdict to compensate him for the damages Walker sustained when he reached for a watermelon.
“The decision to reward $2.5million in compensatory damages and $5million in punitive damages was reached by a jury comprised of seven African-Americans and five whites,” The Daily Mail notes.
How does reaching for a watermelon end in court? Walker claims his foot became trapped beneath the pallet that was holding the over-sized carton of melons. When he reached in for one of the fruits at a Phenix City, Alabama Walmart on June 25, 2015, he couldn’t extricate himself from the crate. The weight of the melon and the stuck foot ended in catastrophe.
“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’s attorney claimed that the open pallet was negligable. They should have closed up the sides to prevent shoppers from catching their feet inside the pallets.
“It was a fair verdict because Walmart just didn’t care,” said Charles Gower, the lead attorney for the plaintiff. “They should have had something to cover up that pallet so someone’s foot couldn’t get caught in it, and they didn’t.”
“I think this jury appreciated what Mr Walker went through and they compensated him accordingly,” said David Rayfield, the Walker’s other attorney. “This is a great verdict for the community because this jury wanted to make sure it was safe for shoppers.”
As for Walmart, they’ve not changed how they do business. Melons are still brought in on pallets. “Walmart continues to display watermelons in the same manner as it did on June 25, 2015,” the company wrote in a court filing on Wednesday.
“These displays come to the store from the producer already packaged and ready to be dropped and displayed.”