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Judgment Against Kroger Co. Upheld

June 11, 2002

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WASHINGTON (AP) _ Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. was making arrangements Tuesday to pay a $55 million jury award to an Illinois man injured when he was crushed between two trucks in a warehouse parking lot.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday denied without comment the company’s request to overturn a jury’s 1999 decision to award the money to Jerry Stanton, who was injured in Indianapolis. Attorneys said it was one of the largest verdicts in Indiana state court.

``It’s not celebration time, it’s relief,″ said Stanton’s attorney, David Dorris.

Gary Rhodes, a spokesman for Kroger, declined to comment on the court’s decision but said the payment was being made Tuesday and was covered by a liability insurance policy.

Kroger had argued that the Indiana court incorrectly invoked the U.S. Constitution’s Seventh Amendment right to a trial by jury when it declined to interfere with the jury’s decision. The company, claiming the amount was ``grossly excessive,″ had urged the court to compare the award to similar cases.

Stanton, a driver with an Illinois trucking firm, spent 243 days in the hospital and underwent several surgeries after the May 1995 accident.

He and his wife, Alfie, sued Kroger and the driver, Ira Ritter, for negligence and loss of consortium. Kroger attorneys argued that Stanton was at fault for the accident because he should have been more alert.

Dorris, who had urged the Supreme Court not to hear the case, said the Indiana court relied on state precedent, not the Seventh Amendment, in reaching its decision.

The Indiana jury originally gave Stanton and his wife $68.7 million in damages, but later cut that amount by 20 percent, saying Stanton was partly responsible for the accident.

___

On the Net:

Supreme Court: http://www.supremecourtus.gov/

Kroger: http://www.kroger.com/

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