Society

Oregon Man Who Broke Leg During Costco Altercation Loses $610,000 Lawsuit

| by Kathryn Schroeder
Timothy WallsTimothy Walls

On Nov. 19, a Portland, Oregon, man lost his $610,000 lawsuit against Costco Wholesale. The lawsuit stemmed from a 2013 incident, in which the man allegedly refused to show his receipt when leaving the store and subsequently broke his leg during an altercation with a staff member.

Timothy Walls, 38, sued Costco for $110,000 in medical bills and lost wages and up to $500,000 for pain and suffering, The Oregonian reports.

Costco said that on Jan. 28, 2013, Walls refused to show his receipt to an employee upon leaving the store, and he became so upset that he assaulted the employee, picking him up by his shirt collar and shoving him against a pillar.

The employee reportedly weighed about 130 pounds; Walls weighed 320 pounds.

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A second employee came to the aid of his coworker and Walls grabbed him by his collar, cursed at him, and then pushed him, according to Costco. The second employee allegedly tripped Walls in self-defense during the dispute.

There was no surveillance camera footage of the incident.

Walls suffered a broken leg from the fall that required two surgeries, being bedridden for weeks, the need to move in with his mother, and the use of crutches or a cane for nine months in order to walk.

His attorney said in court that he had made a “bad decision” to push the first employee but added that the second employee used excessive force by tripping him.

Walls also said in court that he always showed his receipt in the past, but on this occasion the employee had his back turned to him and did not ask to see it as Walls left the store. When he was stopped, Walls said he offered his receipt to be checked.

"I had my receipt in my hand and said, 'Here it was, OK?' And he didn't care,'" Walls said. "He's still saying, 'It doesn't matter, we still have to go inside.' ... He's acting like he's going to haul me back inside. I didn't understand. ... I'm yelling 'Somebody get a manager! Somebody call police!'"

At the time Walls filed the lawsuit, he said Costco had no right to detain him because he would not show his receipt, The Oregonian reported in a separate article.

By becoming a member of Costco you are upheld to its policies, and the checking of receipts is one of them, according to Costco's website.

“To ensure that all members are correctly charged for the merchandise purchased, all receipts and merchandise will be inspected as you leave the warehouse,” the Costco membership policy reads.

After about two hours of deliberation, the jury found 9-3 that the Costco employee did not unlawfully restrain Walls’ “freedom of movement" and therefore did not award him damages in the lawsuit.

Although jurors did find that the second employee "committed a battery" against Walls by breaking his leg, they also agreed that the use of force was justified.

Sources: The Oregonian (2), Costco Wholesale / Photo Source: Aimee Green/The Oregonian