Louis Kilgo, a former truck driver from Charlotte, is $2.2 million richer today, thanks to the folks at Sam’s Club. In 1991, Kilgo stepped out of his tractor-trailer and was buried under 1,000 pounds of fax paper and other products that had been loaded on his rig by employee’s of Sam’s Club, the warehouse chain owned by Wal-Mart. After four costly surgeries, Kilgo has not been able to hold a job, goes through mood swings, has numb fingers, and endures memory lapses. All stemming from the brain and neck injuries he sustained when Sam’s Club merchandise fell on him, putting him out of gainful employment. A jury in Mecklenburg county awarded Kilgo $2.2 million this month, eight years after the accident. After nine days of testimony, the Superior Court on Nov. 13th. ruled that Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart were responsible for Kilgo’s injuries. “I hope this send a message,” Kilgo told the Charlotte Observer. “It’s hard when you have to go through something like this for seven or eight years.” Wal-Mart,however, will not let Kilgo go after just eight years. The company says it plans to appeal the case, saying that Kilgo or the trucking firm he worked for should take responsibility for what happened to the driver. Kilgo’s lawyer says that Wal-Mart employees failed to properly secure the merchandise that was tightly stacked on Kilgo’s truck. “It’s consistent with the warehouse shopping environment presented by Wal-Mart,” said Jeffrey Hyman, Kilgo’s lawyer. “There is a lack of safety practices inside the store, and it’s clear to me that they have a lack of safety practices in their transportation and shipping as well.” This is the second falling merchandise case for a Charlotte Wal-Mart store. Last December, a woman who was hit on the head by a toy truck at Wal-Mart settled for an undisclosed sum after fighting Wal-Mart in court for 4 years. Of the $2.2 million awarded in the Kilgo case, $225,000 went to his wife for “loss of her husband’s society and services and loss of her conjugal rights.” In other words, there marriage has been irrevocably changed by the careless handling of merchandise by Sam’s Club employees.
A Colorado jury also recently awarded a man more than $3 million for injuries he sustained at a Wal-Mart when he was hit in the head by an ice augur. For other Wal-Mart black and blue stories, see entries below.