Gwinnett Jury Awards $2.3 Million in Slip and Fall Case After Judge Finds Kroger Spoliated Evidence

Case Caption:  Walters v. Kroger, Civil Action No. 09-C-14740-S4
Court:  Gwinnett County State Court
Judge:  Honorable Joseph C. Iannazzone
Plaintiff’s Attorneys: Lloyd Bell, Bell Law Firm; Bruce Berger, Berger Law Firm
Defendant’s Attorneys: Douglas A. Wilde
Alleged Damages: Spinal cord injury requiring surgery.  Medical bills approximately $135,000
Verdict: Plaintiff awarded $2.3 Million, including $700,000.00 future pain and suffering, $200,000 past pain and suffering, lost wages, and $675,782.40 in litigation expenses.
Date of Verdict: January 20, 2012

Summary:  Plaintiff Craig Walters, a 49-year-old man, was shopping at Kroger when he slipped on crushed fruit and fell onto his back.  Plaintiff’s counsel told the AJC that the store video recorded everything – the fruit falling to the floor, the length of time the fruit remained on the floor, and Plaintiff’s fall.  However, Kroger’s attorneys initially claimed that the video had been erased in the regular course of recording over every 17 days, and that no camera was pointed at the location in question.  The truth came to light at the deposition of a Kroger employee who testified that one of the store’s cameras was pointed directly on the spot where Plaintiff had fallen.

Finding that Kroger had spoliated the video evidence, Judge Iannazzone sanctioned the Defendant (allowing the jury to award litigation expenses), determined that Defendant had been negligent, and scheduled a jury trial on damages. On January 20, 2012, after deliberating for three days, the jury awarded Plaintiff $2.3 million.

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