According to the ABA Journal.com, earlier this month, the Colorado Supreme court reversed a lower court’s determination that Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was entitled to a new trial, and approved a $10 million award to a truck driver who had to undergo multiple spinal surgeries as a result of the injuries she sustained after slipping and falling while making a delivery to a Wal-Mart store in Greeley, Colorado. According to Denver attorney Gregory Gold, who represented the plaintiff in the case, the award could be one of the highest slip and fall verdicts in the country.
As reported by TheDenverPost.com, this case began when Holly Averyt, a 41 year old truck driver, slipped and fell on ice and grease on December 13, 2007, as she delivered a load of food to a Wal-Mart store. TheDenverPost.com also reported that as a result of her fall, Averyt ruptured a disk in her back and had to undergo several surgeries, which left her unable to work. According to her attorney, after her fall in December, Averyt had to undergo three spine surgeries, one on her neck and two on her back. Also according to her attorney, because Averyt was unable to return to work, the truck that she lived in was repossessed, and she incurred about $500,000 in medical bills.
Gold, Averyt’s attorney, took her case to trial last year, and was successful in convincing a jury that Wal-Mart knew about the grease spill, did nothing to clean it up and then lied about it in court. According to TheDenverChannel.com, Gold presented city documents showing that some grease from the store’s deli didn’t get trapped in a device designed to keep it from getting into the sewer. He argued that the overflow caused a 185-foot slick of grease into the parking lot and the truck ramp area, which accumulated for seven days.
At trial, Gold claimed that the ramp to the store’s loading dock was covered with used cooking oil and other greases that Averyt she could not see. According to Gold, she tried to report the fall to a Wal-Mart employee who met her at the receiving door, but he refused to take her report. Although Wal-Mart denied that Averyt fell at the store and also denied that a grease spill ever occurred, Averyt’s lawyer presented evidence at trial that Greeley city officials had investigated a complaint about grease coming out of a manhole cover near the Wal-Mart building in the store’s parking lot. City inspectors who went to the Wal-Mart found a blockage in the store’s grease interceptors. According to TheDenverPost.com, a man who identified himself as the store manager said the problem had been going on for a week.
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