Colorado Court Upholds $10M Walmart Award to Trucker
The Colorado Supreme Court has upheld a jury’s decision that Walmart was responsible for a truck driver’s slip and fall on ice and grease while making a delivery to a store in Greeley, CO. The jury had awarded the Cheyenne, WY, truck driver, Holly Averyt, 41, $15 million dollars in the November 2010 trial.
Averyt had claimed that some grease from the store’s deli didn’t get trapped in a device designed to keep it from getting into the sewer. [Averyt’s lawyer, Gregory] Gold argued that the overflow caused a 185-foot slick of grease to flow into the parking lot and the truck ramp area, which accumulated for seven days.
Since the December 2007 accident, Averyt has had to undergo three spine surgeries — one on her neck and two on her back. Gold told the Greeley Tribune newspaper that Averyt was unable to return to work, and had incurred about $500,000 in medical bills.
Walmart told jurors there had been no grease spill at the store in Greeley.
As Associated press reports for 9news.com,
Walmart appealed and a lower court granted the company a new trial, saying the award was ‘excessive, not supported by the evidence and could only be the result of prejudice and bias and the jury’s desire to punish Walmart.’
Walmart also said in the appeal that Averyt’s lawyers did not provide city documents. But in its ruling on Monday, the Supreme Court threw out the order for a new trial, saying the truck driver’s lawyers were not required to provide a document that is available in public records.
According to Associated Press, the court also said any prejudice the jury may have harbored toward the Bentonville, AR, company was due to its initial refusal to produce evidence or admit the existence of the grease spill. The Supreme Court reduced the award to $10 million because of a state cap on non-economic damages.
Associated Press reports that Walmart spokesman David Tovar said, “We respectfully disagree with the court’s opinion. We’re continuing to focus on operating a safe shopping and working environment in all our stores.”