Ryan Lokker v. Walmart Inc., et al

Parties Involved

  • Plaintiff: Ryan Lokker
    • Counsel for Plaintiff: Bethany M Hill | Elliot Siegel | Robert J King | Tiffany Nguyen | Andrea M. Obando | Lincoln Wolf Ellis
  • Defendant: Walmart Inc. | Does 1-10
    • Counsel for Defendant: Tazamisha Heshima Imara | Tiffany S Hansen | David Alexander Crane | David A. Yudelson | Terry L. Higham

Verdict Information

  • Verdict date: April 11, 2024
  • Total damages awarded to the Plaintiff: $311,900
    • Economic damages: $11,900
    • Non-economic damages: $300,000

About the Case


Plaintiff Ryan Lokker, a resident of San Bernardino County, worked for Defendant Walmart, Inc. as an overnight stocking team associate from May 2013 until March 23, 2022. Walmart, a Delaware corporation, operated a Supercenter in Yucca Valley, CA, where Plaintiff was employed. Lokker’s responsibilities included restocking perishables like frozen food and dairy.

For many years, Mr. Lokker observed that Defendant instructed employees to restock perishables in consumer-facing refrigeration units within thirty minutes. When not feasible, perishables were stored in non-consumer-facing units temporarily. In 2021, Defendant changed this practice and began leaving perishables on unrefrigerated pallets at room temperature for many hours.

Over the next year, Plaintiff regularly observed perishables such as butter and ice cream liquefying on pallets. He also noticed that items retaining their shape, like frozen pizzas, were restocked despite sitting in warm conditions for hours. Plaintiff reasonably believed these practices created unsanitary conditions, violating health and safety laws. Furthermore, Mr. Lokker believed that restocking these products misled consumers about the quality of their food purchases.

In late February or early March 2022, Mr. Lokker complained repeatedly to in-store managers about these unsanitary conditions, but none addressed his concerns. Subsequently, he escalated his complaint to the Walmart Ethics website, but received no response. In mid-March 2022, Defendant heavily modified Plaintiff’s shift schedule, later instructing him to revert to his normal schedule. On March 23, 2022, Walmart terminated Mr. Lokker, citing excessive absences. However, he only exceeded absences because he followed his normal schedule as instructed.

Other employees also experienced scheduling confusion, but their absences were erased by management. Defendant’s justification for firing Plaintiff was a pretext. Mr. Lokker was allegedly terminated for making protected complaints about unsafe food handling practices. Plaintiff filed a suit alleging whistleblower retaliation and wrongful termination in violation of public policy.


As a direct and proximate result of the violation of his rights under Labor Code § 1102.5, Plaintiff had suffered general damages. Additionally, Plaintiff had suffered financial losses, including lost earnings and employment benefits, entitling him to special damages.

Defendants’ actions had caused Plaintiff to lose earnings, benefits, and incur out-of-pocket expenses, with amounts to be proven at trial. Furthermore, Plaintiff had continued to suffer lost future earnings and benefits. Defendants’ conduct had resulted in Plaintiff losing financial stability, peace of mind, and future security, causing severe embarrassment, humiliation, and emotional distress. It was also claimed that the Defendants’ intentional, willful, and malicious actions had entitled Plaintiff to punitive damages.


Plaintiff had demanded a trial by jury on all triable issues. The Plaintiff had respectfully prayed for actual damages, including economic and non-economic damages, according to proof. Additionally, he had requested civil penalties and punitive and exemplary damages according to proof. Plaintiff had also asked for pre- and post-judgment interest on monetary damages. Moreover, he had sought reasonable attorney’s fees and the costs of the suit. Finally, Plaintiff had requested any other relief deemed just and proper by the Court.

Jury Verdict

A California jury began trying this matter on April 9, 2024, with Judge R. Gary Klausner presiding. On April 10, 2024, the Court ruled that Plaintiff Ryan Lokker’s first cause of action for retaliation in violation of Labor Code Section 1102.5 was time-barred under a one-year statute of limitations. As a result, the jury only considered Plaintiff’s second cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. On April 11, 2024, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendant Walmart Inc. on his second cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.

The jury awarded Plaintiff $11,900 in economic damages and $300,000 in noneconomic damages. Therefore, the court ordered, adjudged, and decreed that Plaintiff shall recover from Defendant the amount of $311,900, plus post-judgment interest at the rate of 5.20% per annum, along with costs. Plaintiff’s first cause of action for retaliation in violation of Labor Code Section 1102.5 was time-barred, and thus the court entered judgment against Plaintiff and in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff’s claim under Labor Code Section 1102.5.

Court Documents:

Available upon request