Walmart shopper hurt while buying melon wins $7.5M verdict

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PHENIX CITY, Ala. (AP) An Alabama man who said he tripped and broke his hip while buying a watermelon at a Walmart store has won a $7.5 million verdict in his lawsuit against the retailer.

Henry Walker on Wednesday was awarded the damages after a jury trial in Phenix City, Alabama, just west of the Georgia state line, court records show.

Walker had sued Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., saying his foot became trapped in a pallet beneath the watermelons as he reached for one of the fruits at a Phenix City Walmart on June 25, 2015.

"We are disappointed in the verdict," Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said Thursday. "We appreciate the jury's service, however we believe that the damages awarded were excessive in light of the facts in this case. We plan to appeal."

Walmart should have covered the pallet so that it could not entangle a shopper's foot, Charles Gower, one of Walker's attorneys, told The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer .

In court records and in testimony, Walmart has maintained that the display was not dangerous, and that any negligence was Walker's fault. In fact, the same displays are still used, it said.

"Walmart continues to display watermelons in the same manner as it did on June 25, 2015," the company in a court filing on Wednesday. "These displays come to the store from the producer already packaged and ready to be dropped and displayed."

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