Hit by cart at Walmart, Fort Myers woman gets $421,400

8:58 PM, May. 10, 2011 |

A Fort Myers woman has been awarded $421,400 in a lawsuit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Janice Morris, now 68, was injured almost two years ago when she was thrown to the floor by a loaded, motorized stock cart operated by a store employee.

A jury last month decided in her favor, and Circuit Judge Joseph Fuller on Friday approved the compensation amount - $21,400 for past medical expenses, $150,000 for past pain and suffering and $250,000 for future pain and suffering.

Wal-Mart, which was represented by Fort Myers attorney Kim Howard, has 30 days to appeal. Howard did not return a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Thomas C. Chase, Morris' Fort Myers attorney, said his client suffered fractures to several of her pubic bones. He had been asking for $300,000 to $500,000. Morris was out of work for three months as a result of the incident, though Chase did not pursue compensation for lost wages or future medical bills.

"Obviously, we feel that this was a very well-defended case and a very fair number was reached by the jury," Chase said, adding he was hesitant to say more until Wal-Mart decided whether to appeal.

Morris, reached Tuesday by phone, declined to comment.

According to court documents, Morris was at Walmart on Ben C. Pratt/Six Mile Cypress Parkway on Oct. 10, 2009. When she paused to look in the packaged-meats section, the loaded cart struck her, knocking her to the floor.

In her suit, Morris alleged Wal-Mart failed to warn patrons of potentially hazardous conditions, failed to properly train and supervise its employee and allowed the employee to operate the cart in a dangerous manner without an audible beeper.

She alleged the operator of the cart, Richard Hesson, who was named in the lawsuit, should have known patrons in front of him might not be able to hear the cart approaching.

Wal-Mart denied the allegations.

It is unclear whether Hesson is still a Wal-Mart employee. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday.