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Williams Kastner’s Rodney Umberger, Eddy Silverman obtain defense verdict in $50 million premises liability trial
POSTED NOVEMBER 10, 2022
Williams Kastner attorneys Rodney L. Umberger and Eddy Silverman, with the help of Seattle paralegal Tristan Pirak, recently obtained a defense verdict in a $50 million premises liability/product liability case following a three-week in-person trial in King County, Washington, with Superior Court Judge Chad Allred presiding. The case, Strout v. Walmart, arose out of allegations that Walmart and others were at fault for paraplegia injuries the plaintiff sustained as a result of a fall out of a second-story window. The plaintiff, in her mid-forties and the mother of a teenage daughter (the daughter had a loss of consortium claim), originally sued multiple other defendants, some of whom paid seven-figure settlements to resolve the case in advance of trial, leaving Walmart as the lone defendant—and the only one willing to defend the case at trial. Specifically as to Walmart, plaintiff claimed that the store was negligent for taking back an in-window air conditioner as a return and restocking that item without the instructions and without all necessary installation hardware, and as a result, the unit came dislodged from the window in plaintiff’s condominium when the plaintiff was standing next to it. Both plaintiff and the unit fell to the ground.
Williams Kastner argued on behalf of Walmart that there was no evidence that the product in question was missing any items, and that even if certain items had been missing that there was no evidence that Walmart was at fault for this—or that the allegedly missing items were a proximate cause of what happened to the plaintiff. Even before the trial began, the case was hotly contested at the motions in limine stage, where the parties argued more than 50 motions in limine, and each side called at least half-a-dozen expert witnesses. The jury found that Walmart was not negligent after deliberating for less than an hour. The result was a resounding success for Williams Kastner’s trial team and their client in a case that had been in active litigation for more than six years at the time of trial.