Verdicts & Settlements

Target hit with $4.6 million jury verdict at trial; retailer had nixed $12K settlement offer


Target recently got hit with a $4.6 million jury verdict after a South Carolina woman in 2014 was stuck with a hypodermic needle her 8-year-old daughter found in the store parking lot.

The Minneapolis company rejected a $12,000 offer to settle the case before trial, and responded with a counteroffer of $750, the Independent Mail reported.

As Carla Denise Garrison was exiting her car, she saw her daughter pick up the needle, and she swatted it out of the child’s hand, which resulted in the needle getting stuck in Garrison’s palm, the article reports. Afterward Garrison, was prescribed medication to prevent her from contracting HIV, and it caused her to be very ill. That led to Garrison and her husband, Clint Garrison, missing work, her attorney told the newspaper. It notes that so far she has tested negative for HIV and hepatitis.

“When we started this, we were just trying to get Target to make my client whole, to pay for her medical bills and the time that her husband had to take off work,” said Joshua Hawkins, Garrison’s attorney. “We tried to be reasonable and not take this to trial. But Target took a really hard stance on it … and I think the jury sent a message.”

South Carolina law does cap some punitive damages, and that could be an issue for post-trial motions or appeals, according to the article.

The defense argued that there was no proof Target put the needle in the parking lot or had notice about it being there and failed to act.

“Our guests are at the center of everything we do, and our commitment to creating a safe and secure shopping environment in our stores is unwavering,” Erika Winkels, a Target spokeswoman, told the newspaper. “As a part this commitment to safety, we have robust procedures, policies and trainings in place to ensure that our stores are safe places to shop and work.”


Correction

Headline changed Sept. 13 to fix an editing error and clarify that it was a $4.6 million jury verdict.



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