Target Corporation could have settled a lawsuit for $12,000. When the company countered with $750 after a woman was pricked by a hypodermic needle her child found in the parking lot, the case went to trial. Earlier this month, the jury awarded the woman more than $4.6 million in damages.
Damages refer to the sum of money the law imposes for a breach of some duty or violation of some right. There are two types of damages: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are intended to compensate the injured party for his loss or injury. The amount awarded is based on the proven harm, loss, or injury suffered by the plaintiff. Punitive damages are considered punishment and are awarded when the defendant's behavior is found to be especially harmful, but are normally not awarded in the context of a breach of contract claim.
The woman's injury occurred in May 2014 in the parking lot of a South Carolina Target store. She and her 8-year-old daughter were walking into the store when the little girl picked up a needle she found on the pavement. The woman swatted it out of her daughter's hand and was pricked in her palm. She went into the store to report the injury and a Target employee noted in the report that the woman “seemed worried.”
After the incident, she went to a medical center where she was tested for HIV and hepatitis. Both tests have come back negative so far, but as a precaution, she was prescribed HIV medication. The HIV drugs made the woman sick and caused her to be bedridden. Her husband had to take time off work to care for her. The woman paid $4,000 for the emergency room visit and $8,000 for the treatments for potential HIV infection. She had been assured by store employees that Target would pay for her $12,000 in medical bills, however, corporate management would offer only $750.
After the jury made its decision about the damages, the woman's attorney said: “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. 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.”
If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of another person or a company and were offered a paltry sum as compensation, you may be entitled to a larger award. Call the offices of trial attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian at 1-800-529-6162 or contact them online. The firm handles cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.