However, while the manager was giving a deposition at the Douglasville store, lawyers for Walters asked for a demonstration of the store's video surveillance system. The demonstration revealed the camera was centered directly on the spot where Walters fell.
“We couldn’t believe it," Bell said in a written statement. "The camera had obviously caught everything that had happened -- when the fruit fell to the floor, how long it was there, Walters slipping and falling on it -- and they deliberately erased it, lied to us, and gave us a phony sample of video footage to throw us off their trail."
Gwinnett State Court Judge Joseph C. Iannazzone sanctioned the company and issued an order finding Kroger had “spoliated” [destroyed] video evidence. The judge also determined the company was negligent and scheduled a trial on the limited issue of what damages Walters was entitled to receive.
A jury returned the $2.3 million verdict Jan. 20 at the conclusion of a three-day trial.
A representative for Kroger said the company was evaluating whether to file an appeal.
"The safety of our customers is important to Kroger," company spokesman Glynn Jenkins said. "We are sorry that Mr. Walters had an unfortunate experience in one of our stores. However, we disagree with some of the decisions made in the recent trial and are currently evaluating our future course of action."