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Who knew shopping was this dangerous? Henry Walker found out while reaching for a watermelon in an Alabama Walmart in 2015. Walker's foot got caught in a wooden pallet on the floor, causing him to fall and shatter his hip.
Walker sued Walmart, claiming the retailer should've known the pallet was likely to cause an injury and failed 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." A jury agreed, and awarded Walker $7.5 million in damages.
Walker wasn't the only customer caught up in the pallet, hidden beneath the watermelon container. Walker's attorney showed jurors security footage from the Walmart depicting several other shoppers getting their feet caught in the side opening of the pallet. The same happened to Walker as he reached in for some fruit, and when he tried to turn around his foot got stuck and he fell.
"You don't expect to go into a grocery store walking fine on your two feet and come out on a stretcher," one of Walker's attorneys, Shaun O'Hara, said after the verdict. He pointed out that the 59-year-old played basketball with friends three days a week prior to the fall and now has to use a walker. "This fall completely changed Henry Walker's life," O'Hara said. "He is no longer able to do everyday activities that many of us take for granted."
The jury needed just two hours of deliberation to rule in Walker's favor, awarding him $2.5 million in compensatory damages and another $5 million in punitive damages. "We are disappointed in the verdict and believe that the damages awarded were excessive in light of the facts in this case," Walmart spokesperson Randy Hargrove told AL.com. "We plan to appeal."
While Walker's attorney hopes the verdict will encourage Walmart to use pallet guards in the future, slip and falls at stores are sadly far too common. If you've been injured after falling in a store, talk to an experienced personal injury attorney about your case.