Illinois trucker awarded $55 million in decision against the Kroger Co.

| 6/13/2002

The U.S. Supreme Court on June 10 denied Kroger's request to overturn an Indiana jury's 1999 decision to award a settlement to a truckdriver who was injured at an Indianapolis Kroger site.

Jerry Stanton of Illinois had sued the Kroger Co. and one of its truckdrivers, accusing them of negligence after he was crushed between two trucks when a tractor-trailer backed into him in May 1995. He spent 243 days in the hospital and underwent several surgeries.

In the jury trial, Kroger attorneys argued that Stanton was at fault for the accident because he should have been more alert. Witnesses said the Kroger driver was driving too fast.

The $55 million was one of the largest awards in Indiana state court history, according to published reports. Kroger claimed the amount was "grossly excessive," urged the Supreme Court to compare the award to similar cases.

Gary Rhodes, a spokesman for Kroger, declined to comment on the decision, but said the payment is being made and is covered by a liability insurance policy. The Indiana jury originally gave Stanton and his wife $68.7 million in damages, but later cut the amount by 20 percent, saying Stanton was partly responsible for the accident.