Holly Averyt, a 41-year-old trucker from Cheyenne, slipped and fell on grease and ice while making a delivery at a Wal-Mart in Greeley, Colorado. Averyt was badly injured, resulting in three spine surgeries and an inability to work as a driver, causing her to lose her truck.
A jury awarded Averyt $15 million in November of 2010, but Wal-Mart appealed and a lower court granted them a new trial. A Weld District Court said that the award “excessive, not supported by the evidence.” But Wal-Mart had told jurors that there was no grease spill at the Greeley store. Averyt’s lawyers, though, presented city documents that showed grease from the stores deli that did not get caught in a device that was designed to keep it from flowing into the sewer, causing a 185-foot spill.
In the appeal, Wal-Mart said that Averyt’s attorneys failed to disclose the documents they presented. The Colorado Supreme Court denied the order for a new trial saying that there was no requirement for Averyt’s attorneys to disclose a document that could be found easily in public records. The court also said that any prejudice the jury had against the retail giant was due to the initial refusal to admit the grease spill.
The court said in its decision “We believe the jury’s award is supported by the evidence is not the result of prejudice. Thus, we refuse to reverse the jury’s reward and grant a new trial.” The court did reduce the award to $10 million because of Colorado’s limit on non-economic damages. Averyt’s medical bills amounted to almost $500,000.