CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia affirmed the Wood County Circuit Court’s rulings and judgment order on Wednesday in a case that resulted in a 2019 jury verdict of $16,922,000 involving Walmart and its failure to maintain its premises in a reasonably safe condition when attempting to apprehend a shoplifter in February 2015 which led to injuries to one of its customers Diane Ankrom. That verdict is believed to be one of the largest, if not the largest, verdicts in the history of Wood County on behalf of a single plaintiff.
Walmart appealed the verdict, but the Supreme Court found that the Circuit Court had not committed any error in the case. Justice Elizabeth D. Walker, who delivered the Opinion of the Court, wrote that “[Walmart’s] arguments are no more persuasive on appeal than they were below.”
Jamie Bordas of the Wheeling-based law firm of Bordas & Bordas who served as lead counsel for the plaintiff at trial and presented the Oral Argument before the Supreme Court commented, “It was truly an honor and a privilege to be able to fight for justice for Diane Ankrom. We are pleased that the Supreme Court recognized through Justice Walker’s detailed and scholarly analysis that the jury and judge who heard the case got it right. When you are taking on a large corporation like Walmart, it is never an easy task. However, Diane had the courage to do this and we are happy that we were able to help her achieve this outcome.”
Bordas was assisted at trial by Wood County attorney Todd Wiseman. Wiseman noted “Diane has had over 20 hospital admissions, numerous surgeries, and millions of dollars in medical bills as a result of her injuries. Although she will suffer life-long effects from this incident, this will help to provide for her many medical and caretaking needs.”
Phillip Sbrolla and Matthew Schrebe of the Pittsburgh-based law firm of Cipriani & Werner defended Walmart at trial. Jeff Wakefield of Charleston-based Flaherty Sensabaugh & Bonasso and Elbert Lin of Hunton Andrews Kurth in Richmond, VA represented Walmart on appeal.