California Jury Awards $2.45M In Walmart Parking Lot Slip-and-Fall Trial, Watch Gavel-to-Gavel on CVN

Posted by David Siegel on Mar 27, 2024 12:15:02 PM

Kwan closings

CVN screenshot of plaintiff attorney Jonathan Kwan delivering his closing argument

San Diego, CA - A California state court jury returned a roughly $2.45 million verdict on Monday for a woman who blamed a fall in a Walmart parking lot on pothole, and the full trial was recorded gavel-to-gavel by Courtroom View Network.

The San Diego County jury returned their verdict the same day they heard closing arguments in the trial that began on March 19. Plaintiff Kathy Morrow accused Walmart of failing to properly inspect and maintain their parking lot after falling in February of 2020, which she claimed forced her to undergo major spinal fusion surgery that left her stuck with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses and permanent pain.

While the jury assigned her no liability for the accident, they did find another business which settled out of the case that shared the same lot 35 percent liable for her injuries. While that reduces her collectible award to roughly $1.6 million, the verdict still exceeds Walmart’s highest settlement offer of “several hundred thousand dollars” according to Morrow’s attorney, Jonathan Kwan of South Coast Trial Lawyers.

The full trial, including all witness testimony, is available for unlimited on-demand viewing with a monthly or annual CVN video library subscription, which also features access to hundreds of other trials civil trials from throughout the United States, including numerous premises liability trials.


Kwan argued to jurors that Morrow couldn’t see the pothole due to shade from a nearby parked car, and that Walmart’s own store policies required them to take more proactive steps to look out for and repair tripping hazards.

Walmart maintained Morrow was distracted on her phone at the time of the fall, and that pedestrians routinely encounter minor changes in elevation in all parking lots, but Kwan successfully argued the pothole was deeper than the roughly half-inch Walmart claimed, and that it presented an “obvious safety hazard.”

Kohn closings

CVN screenshot of defense attorney Andrew Kohn delivering his closing argument

Kwan told CVN he believed the combination of Walmart’s alleged failure to comply with their own safety policies and the extended time the pothole was allowed to develop brought the jury over to his side.

“We presented evidence that Walmart never enforced their own ‘Parking Lot Safety’ policy, which states they must regularly check and fix any potholes in their parking lots,” he said. “We also showed that the pothole in question had been in bad shape since 2018, giving Walmart plenty of time to repair, which they didn’t.”

A Walmart spokesperson told CVN the company is disappointed in the jury’s verdict.

“We work hard to ensure that all customers have a safe experience shopping at our stores,” she said.

Kwan said Walmart’s claims that Morrow was distracted by her phone at the time of the fall and their suggestion the pothole was less than a half-inch deep presented his two biggest challenges at trial, but that he successfully used phone records and expert witness testimony to rebut those arguments.

“Photos showed the depth of the pothole was significant enough for the underlayment of the asphalt to be visibly exposed,” he explained. “Our experts used building codes to affirm that asphalt underlayment typically lies 1.5 to 2 inches beneath the surface; hence the pothole must be at least that deep.”

Kwan said he tried to resolve the case with a $1 million policy limit demand (known as a “998 offer” in California), but the company refused to increase their offer.

Kwan told CVN that verdicts in parking lot cases like this are especially important, because for customers at Walmart and other large retailers their experience “starts and ends in its parking lot.”

“It sets a precedent for accountability and responsibility that retailers have to provide the safest shopping experience to its shopper,” he said. “It also emphasizes the importance for retailers to enforce their own safety policies among employees through proper training and oversight, ensuring that potential hazards are identified and addressed promptly to prevent accidents and injuries to its shoppers.”

Walmart was represented at trial by Andrew Kohn of Pettit Kohn Ingrassia Lutz & Dolin.

The trial took place before Judge Timothy Taylor.

The case is captioned Kathy Morrow v. Walmart Inc., case number 37-2020-00020399-CU-PO-CTL in San Diego County Superior Court.

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Topics: Premises Liability, California