59-year-old US army veteran, who broke his hip while buying watermelon at a Walmart in Alabama, US in 2015, was awarded $7.5 million after a jury ruled in favour of him, reports The Washington Post
Henry Walker's foot got stuck in a wooden pallet and when he turned, his hip broke.
According to WP, Walker sued Walmart over the 2015 incident, and an Alabama jury has ruled that he should be awarded $7.5 million.
Walker’s attorney told AL.com: “You don’t expect to go into a grocery store walking fine on your two feet and come out on a stretcher.”
However, WP writes that Walmart plans to appeal.
The company's spokesman Randy Hargrove said: “We are disappointed in the verdict. We appreciate the jury’s service, however we believe that the damages awarded were excessive in light of the facts of this case.”
This is how the incident took place, according to WP which cites court documents: “Walker reached to pick a melon from a display, and his foot became lodged in the pallet under the watermelon container. He turned, unaware that the pallet was there, and fell and shattered his hip.”
Later, Water sued the retail giant on claims of “negligence and wantonness.”
His lawyers argued: “Walmart had a responsibility to its customers to provide a safe environment and should have known the pallet could cause an injury.”
However the company contradicted the claim and said the display was “not dangerous.”
The jury on Wednesday ruled in favour of Walker, awarding him “$2.5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.”
One of Walker's attorneys told the Ledger-Enquirer: “I think this jury appreciated what Walker went through and they compensated him accordingly. This is a great verdict for the community because this jury wanted to make sure it was safe for shoppers.”
Another said: “Jurors reviewed security footage from the store and saw that Walker wasn’t the only person to get his foot stuck in the side openings of a wooden pallet on the floor.”
However the Walmart representatives could not comment “on the use of wooden pallets or the chain’s safety procedures,” saying the case is an “ongoing matter since the company plans to appeal.”
The incident reportedly “completely changed Henry Walker’s life.”
One of his attorneys said: “Among other things, the Army veteran who used to play basketball three days a week now needs to use a walker.”
“He is no longer able to do everyday activities that many of us take for granted.”