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Howard v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
160 F.3d 358 (1998)


Dolores Howard (plaintiff) sued Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (defendant) in a federal district court. Howard alleged that Wal-Mart's negligence caused her to slip and fall in a Wal-Mart store, resulting in damages that barely exceeded the court's $50,000 jurisdictional threshold. Howard's evidence established the "hair's breadth" statistical probability that Wal-Mart was to blame for the accident. Howard did not investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident or produce any non-statistical evidence to bolster her statistics-based case. However, there was no reason for the court to suspect Howard of avoiding or concealing non-statistical evidence that could exonerate Wal-Mart. Once trial commenced, Howard reduced her damages claim to $25,000. The jury's verdict was in Howard's favor. Wal-Mart appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, arguing that, as a matter of law, the court should have withheld the case from the jury and entered judgment for Wal-Mart.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Posner, J.)

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