Law School Case Brief
Wal-Mart Stores Tex., LLC v. Bishop - 553 S.W.3d 648 (Tex. App. 2018)
When an appellant attacks the legal sufficiency of the evidence to support an adverse finding on an issue on which it did not have the burden of proof, it must demonstrate that no evidence supports the adverse finding. In determining whether the evidence is legally sufficient to support a finding, the court considers the evidence in the light most favorable to the verdict and indulge every reasonable inference that would support it. It credits favorable evidence if reasonable jurors could do so, and disregard contrary evidence unless reasonable jurors could not. The final test for legal sufficiency must always be whether the evidence at trial would enable reasonable and fair-minded people to reach the verdict under review.
Defendant Wal-Mart Stores Texas, LLC (Walmart) appeals a Texas trial court's judgment on a jury verdict in favor of plaintiff Dawn Bishop finding Walmart negligent on a theory of vicarious liability and awarding damages to Bishop for personal injuries sustained when a box fell from a shelf in a Walmart store and struck her on the head.
Was the evidence legally sufficient and, alternatively, factually sufficient to support the jury's finding that the negligence of Walmart's employee proximately caused the box that struck Bishop to fall from the shelf?
The appellate court affirmed the trial court's judgment. The court ruled that there was more than a scintilla of evidence from which the jury could reasonably have drawn the inference that the actions of a Wal-Mart employee in moving and shelving merchandise in the clearance section without the benefit of standards or policies for stocking merchandise on the temporary, wheeled shelving units in that section, and without knowledge of "what to do" or training on how to stock and shelve merchandise in that section, proximately caused the box to fall on Bishop's head. Thus, the evidence was legally sufficient to support the jury's finding that the employee was negligent and that his negligence was the proximate cause of the box falling from a shelf and hitting Bishop on the head.
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