A Florida jury has awarded $1.3 million to a Walmart customer who slipped and fell on a Gatorade sign, finding that store employees failed to put the sign up properly or remove the hazard from the store.
The Walmart slip-and-fall lawsuit was filed by Tom Papakalodoukas, a Port St. Lucie man who tore his biceps tendon in his right arm when he fell on May 15, 2011.
As a result of the injury, Papakalodoukas has had to undergo three major surgeries over the last two years, one of which involved implanting an Achilles tendon from a cadaver into his arm.
The surgeries and other costs resulted in $200,000 in medical bills, and Papakalodoukas has been left with a permanent deformity in his right bicep that results in a bulge known as a “Popeye deformity,” due to the resemblance to the arms of the famous cartoon character. He alleged that he suffers from depression and was unable to return to his job as a beverage distribution manager.
According to the complaint, Papakalodoukas fell after he stepped on a sign that had fallen from a Gatorade display. Walmart attorneys attempted to blame Gatorade for the sign falling, arguing that it was poorly designed and provided them with plastic screws that were insufficient to hold the sign in place.
Plaintiff attorneys and Gatorade argued that if Walmart had installed the sign correctly, or removed it after it fell, the slip and fall accident could have been prevented. The St. Lucie circuit court jury agreed and found Walmart 90% liable and awarded Papakalodoukas $1,287,144. Walmart has indicated that it plans to appeal the verdict.