Battling Wal-Mart for an Eight-Year-Old Burn Victim

Personal Injury Attorney vs Walmart

In one of his first personal injury cases, Shane dedicated almost all of his resources to represent a severely burned young girl in a Federal Court battle against corporate giant, Wal-Mart.

It took almost five years of fighting Wal-Mart’s insurance company and lawyers before the case headed to trial.

Shane packed everything he needed into his family’s motor home, which would serve as his mobile law office over the next three weeks. On board, he organized the trial exhibits, printer/fax, laptops, laser pointer, laminated photos, reams of pleadings, expert diagrams, and blueprints. He arrived seven days early and parked his motorhome at the Amtrak Station parking lot across from the Federal Courthouse where the Wal-Mart trial would be held.

A court clerk let him use an empty court room on the 16th floor: Shane practiced for hours in front of an empty jury box.

Having emptied his bank account and maxed out credit cards to secure top-notch experts, including a Ph.D. forensic metallurgist and medical burn specialists, Shane was ready for the final showdown against the world’s most powerful retailer.

“He lived and breathed that case,” his wife recalls.

During the five-years of litigation, Wal-Mart’s law firm tasked five lawyers to work on the case. They fought pleading-wars, questioned burn experts, enlisted opposing metallurgists, consulted economists and engineers, cross-examined products-testing UL Laboratory experts, drafted reams of pleadings, and fought in dozens of depositions and hearings.

Now the final fight was at hand.

The morning of trial arrived, and the insurance attorney met with Shane in a conference room outside the court room. “I have an offer for your client, Mr. Reed.” Wal-Mart’s insurance lawyer followed up with, “Nothing.”

The personal injury trial unfolded with colorful characters and unexpected developments. At the mid-week mark, an earthquake even shook the federal building and interrupted the trial. Shane spoke into the microphone, “Your Honor, I think that’s an earthquake.”

The judge responded, “I think you’re right, Counselor. Next question.”

And the trial rolled on. Some witnesses collapsed under the weight of cross-examination; others took the hits and stood even taller; the burned little girl’s grandmother cried on the stand, and so did her firefighter father.

Despite the continuous onslaught of cross-examinations and legal maneuvers from Wal-Mart’s team, Shane strategically presented a surprise witness during the closing arguments: a police officer and an “ear-witness”.

He finished by asking the jurors how Wal-Mart’s founder Sam Walton–if he were still alive–might view his store’s treatment of this burned girl. He answered the hypothetical for them, “He’d tell them to go back and pick that little girl up! That’s not how we treat our customers!” This final argument was a suggestion made by Shane’s wife. Wal-Mart’s lawyers were caught off guard. And in the end, after six hours of deliberating, the jury’s unanimous verdict was $3.1 million!

Media outlets covered the victory with the girl’s father expressing gratitude for Shane’s strategic brilliance. “Shane was awesome. When their expert got up there at first, he said there were no defects in the [exploding] pot. Shane got up there and got their expert to say, ‘Yes, there are many defects.’ We were sitting there in awe.”

Wal-Mart’s insurance lawyers attempted an appeal, but Shane, well-versed in appellate arguments, navigated the challenge. Ultimately, Wal-Mart conceded, providing the financial means for the young burn victim’s extensive scar treatment.

The case made the front page of newspapers, prompting Wal-Mart to implement new safety features on their stock pots, so that no one else would get hurt. Witness the triumph of justice as David had won against Goliath under the relentless pursuit led by Shane Reed, your trusted personal injury burn attorney.