The multinational retail corporation Walmart claims that it has producers send prepackaged watermelon displays to its stores that are ready to be “dropped” and sold without additional preparation. However, a 61-year-old man whose hip was broken as he attempted to select a fruit in one of these displays has been awarded damages in the amount of $7.5 million by a jury. The verdict may eventually affect the way fruit is displayed at supermarkets in West Virginia and across the U.S.
Reports indicate that the plaintiff was injured on June 25, 2015, when his foot became entrapped in a pallet underneath a display box as he tried to grab one of the watermelons inside. As a result of the entrapment, the man fell and was seriously injured. During litigations, the plaintiff’s attorney argued that the display was unsafe and that it should have been covered.
Counsel for the retail giant argued otherwise. According to court documents, Walmart has made no changes to the manner in which watermelons are displayed in their stores throughout the country since the time of this accident because the display is inherently safe. Walmart claims that the customer is responsible for the accident and plans to appeal the verdict, which, they believe, produced an excessive amount.
By law, it is the responsibility of property owners to keep customers reasonably safe from loss and injury. Residents of West Virginia who have been injured as the result of unsafe conditions while patronizing a store or business may want to explore their options with an attorney who is practiced in premises liability law. Depending on the facts of the case, the attorney might be able to help the injured client recover compensation via negotiation or through litigation.