Plaintiff beats 998 in Walmart trip-and-fall. $2.45M. San Diego County.


Trip-and-fall in parking lot results in 998 offer of $150,000 but verdict is for $2.45 million with 65% against defendant Walmart.

The Case

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $2,454,432.34
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    The jury found Walmart 65% liable and CBRE 35% liable for the incident.

  • Contributory/Comparative Negligence: None to plaintiff.
  • Economic Damages:

    Past medical: $362,432.34 

  • Non-Economic Damages:


  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 3 hours
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 on liability.
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Plaintiff will be filing a post-judgment motion for interest, costs, and expert witness fees in the amount of at least $754,515.29.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    South Coast Trial Lawyers, A Law Corp. by Jonathan Kwan, Irvine.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Pettit Kohn Ingrassia Lutz & Dolin by Andrew Kohn and Heather Rogers, San Diego.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):

    Michael Wang, M.D., radiology.

    Sanjay Ghosh, M.D., neurosurgery.

  • Defendant's Medical Expert(s):

    Robert Eastlack, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

    Jon P. Kelly, M.D., orthopedic surgery.

    John Lieu, M.D., radiology.

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Brad Avrit, P.E., safety engineering.

    Eugene Vanderpol, M.S.M.E, P.E., accident reconstruction/human factors/biomechanics.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Nancy Fraser Michalski, R.N., medical billing.

    Brian Samuel Iler, C.H.S.T., C.S.H.M., construction safety.

    Robyn Brinkerhoff, Ph.D., human factors.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On February 1, 2020, Kathy Morrow, a 58-year-old medical equipment technician, shopped at a Walmart Supercenter in El Cajon. After she finished shopping, she walked to her car and tripped and fell over a pothole in the parking lot.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Building codes and photos of the pothole’s underlayment confirmed that the pothole was deeper than the 1/2-inch depth claimed by Walmart; Walmart violated its own policies and procedures regarding inspection and curing parking lot defects; the pothole was located next to a handicapped parking space; CCTV footage showed the pothole's visibility was obscured from view due to shade from a nearby parked car; CCTV footage showed that the pothole was located in a commonly traversed area of the parking lot; Walmart failed to repair the pothole timely even though it had been there since 2018; cellphone records showed plaintiff was not using her phone or distracted when she fell; that Walmart alone, not a third party, had control of the parking lot; that plaintiff’s spine surgery was a necessary and reasonable procedure that resulted from her fall.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    The pothole was 1/2 of an inch deep after being measured with a ruler by a Walmart employee and was therefore trivial in nature; plaintiff was on the phone and distracted at the time of her fall; the pothole was open, obvious and visible from a far distance; plaintiff should have walked on the adjacent sidewalk instead of through the parking lot to get to her car; the pothole was not a dangerous condition; CBRE, a third-party land owner, was responsible for parking lot repairs; and plaintiff already had a pre-existing cervical degenerative disc disease.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    A three-level anterior cervical discectomy fusion from C4-C7.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: $362,432.34
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: Waived
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: Waived
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: Waived

Demands and Offers

  • Plaintiff §998 Demand: To Walmart on July 9, 2021 for $1,000,000.
  • Defendant §998 Offer: From Walmart, on December 8, 2022 in the amount of $150,000.