Falling Merchandise - Wal-Mart Loses Retrial - Denver Post

WaI-Mart -loses retrial of lawsuit

As seen in The Denver Post
Date: 10/20/99
By: Anne Colden - Denver Post Business Writer

A man who was injured at a WalMart store when merchandise fell off a shelf and struck him in the head was awarded $825,000 for emotional distress by a Denver District Court jury on Monday.

The award for Philip Scharrel, 48, of Pine, came in a retrial on the issue of "non-economic damages," which had originally been set at $1 million by a Denver District Court jury in 1995. Non-economic damages are used to compensate "physical pain, mental suffering, emotional distress and impairment of quality of life," said Scharrel's attorney, Jeffrey Hyman. Scharrel suffered inner ear damage, chronic headaches and mild traumatic brain injury, his attorney said.

The first jury also awarded Scharrel slightly more than $2 million in damages for permanent physical impairment and economic losses. It awarded Scharrel's wife Joyce, $300,000 for emotional distress.

Wal-Mart appealed and the appeals court reversed the $300,000 for his wife and the $1 million in emotional distress.

The retrial lasted five days and the jury deliberated less than two hours, said Molly Homan, an attorney who assisted Hyman.

Wal-Mart didn't return a call seeking comment.

Scharrel was injured the evening of Jan. 8, 1994, while shopping for an ice auger in Littleton. An employee at Wal-Mart climbed a ladder to retrieve the augers from a shelf and fell down, knocking several boxes and other merchandise down on the Scharrels.

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