A Walmart customer who slipped on a fallen Gatorade sign won a $1.3 million verdict for his injuries.
Tom Papakalodoukas, a 41-year-old Florida resident, was carrying a water bottle while shopping at a Walmart in Port St. Lucie, Fla., when he stepped on a Gatorade sign that had fallen off a display. He took a violent spill, tearing a tendon in his right bicep. Papakalodoukas underwent three surgeries and had to get an Achilles tendon from cadaver tissue inserted in his arm.
He also developed a permanent condition called a “popeye deformity” that causes abnormal bulges on his arm.
He sued the retail giant for negligence for not screwing the on sign correctly.
Walmart pointed the finger at Gatorade for providing cheap plastic screws.
But at trial, Papakalodoukas’ lawyer, Gloria Seidule, had Gatorade testify that if Walmart employees had put together the sign properly, it wouldn’t have fallen. Gatorade also said that if the screws came loose or broke, it was Walmart’s responsibility to take care of it.
Attorney Gloria Seidule
Although surveillance cameras captured Papakalodoukas falling, Walmart employees threw away the display after the accident.
According to Seidule, her client has not been able to go back to work as a manager at a beverage distribution company and suffers from depression and anxiety over his health and his future. His surgeries have cost over $200,000.
The all-female jury may have helped ease his anxiety with a $1.3 million verdict. The jury laid 90 percent of the blame on Walmart.
“The jury assessed the existing and future medical expenses and lost wages when determining the monetary value of the case,” Seidule said.
Photo Credit: Jeff Taylor.