West Palm Beach, FL— Jurors cleared Walmart of responsibility for the back injuries a Florida mother says she suffered in a 2017 fall at one of the company’s stores. Absolu v. Wal-mart Stores East LP, 2019-CA-006300.
Jennie Absolu was 21 when she slipped on liquid and fell at a Walmart in Boynton Beach, Florida. Absolu, who had given birth weeks before the fall, says she suffered back injuries that have required ongoing treatment, including three surgeries and multiple pain management injections.
Absolu’s attorney, Rubenstein Law’s Peter Hunt, asked jurors for roughly $5.75 million in damages, including more than $2 million in medical expenses alone, during closings of the five-day trial.
Absolu’s fall occurred on a rainy October day after customers brought wet umbrellas into the store. Absolu’s attorneys contend Walmart violated policy in failing to hand out umbrella bags and failing to properly inspect or timely clean rainwater from the floor.
During closings, Hunt reminded jurors of surveillance video that he said showed customers with unbagged, wet umbrellas walk across the area. He said those wet umbrellas left water sitting uncleaned on the Walmart floor for 7 minutes before Absolu slipped on it.
“We had a Walmart employee walk through that area after those umbrellas were being [shaken], and they didn’t look down and they didn’t see [the liquid],” Hunt said, adding that Absolu’s husband testified he heard a customer say they had warned Walmart employees of spillage in the store. “The fact is there is enough liquid on that ground to cause [Absolu] to fall. And fall hard.”
But Walmart’s attorney, Simon Reed & Salazar’s attorney, Gregory Reed, challenged the claim that water sat on the floor long enough for Walmart to have constructive notice about it. He said surveillance video showed multiple people walked through the area without falling during the 7-minute period at issue. And he said photos taken after the fall but before the area was cleaned appeared to show only a small area of clear water without any tracks in it.
“What is the evidence that [water] was there for enough time that Walmart should have known about it?” Reed asked. “It’s just not there.”
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