Jury awards $7.5 million to man who shattered hip buying watermelon at Wal-Mart

A shopper walks down an aisle in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago in this September 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Young/Files
A shopper walks down an aisle in a newly opened Walmart Neighborhood Market in Chicago in this September 21, 2011 file photo. REUTERS/Jim Young/Files

Army veteran Henry Walker was trying to buy a watermelon at a Wal-Mart in Alabama when his foot got stuck in a wooden pallet. When he turned, the 59-year-old fell, breaking his hip.

Walker sued Wal-Mart over the 2015 accident, and an Alabama jury has now ruled that he should be awarded $7.5 million.

“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, Shaun O’Hara, told AL.com.

A Wal-Mart spokesman said the company plans to appeal.

“We are disappointed in the verdict,” said the spokesman. “We appreciate the jury’s service, however, we believe that the damages awarded were excessive in light of the facts of this case.”

He sued the retail giant on claims of negligence and wantonness.

Wal-Mart had a responsibility to its customers to provide a safe environment and should have known the pallet could cause an injury, his lawyers argued.

But the company said the display was not dangerous, according to a Wednesday court filing.

The jury deliberated for about two hours late Wednesday before ruling in favor of Walker, awarding him $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in punitive damages.

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