The Associated Press reports that an Alabama woman who was falsely accused of shoplifting at Walmart has been awarded more than $2 million.
In her second trial against Walmart, a Mobile County jury sided with Leslie Nurse. He originally sued the company after he was falsely arrested and charged with shoplifting for goods he had already paid for. When that lawsuit was dismissed, he began receiving threatening emails from a law firm demanding that he pay $200.
The new lawsuit, which was filed in 2018 by attorney Vince Kilborn, said Walmart was behind the emails and they were taking advantage of a state law that not many were aware of. The law stipulated that retailers were allowed to collect money from those accused of shoplifting. However, the nurse and others were ordered to pay even after falsely accusing them of shoplifting.
The lawsuit argued, “The defendants engaged in a pattern and practice of falsely accusing innocent Alabama citizens of shoplifting and then attempting to extort money from the innocent accused.”
According to local news station WKRG 5, the trial included testimony that the retailer has been using the law over the course of two years, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars being collected. Walmart isn’t the only retailer to use the law, but it’s unknown whether other businesses were cited in the lawsuit or lawsuit.
Walmart’s defense attorneys say they haven’t violated any legal limits.
“We want our customers to have a safe, enjoyable shopping experience in our stores,” Walmart said in a statement, according to AL.com. “We take measures to help prevent, identify and appropriately deal with incidents of theft, which is a problem for all retailers, costing the US economy tens of billions of dollars each year in total. We believe that our partners have acted appropriately.”
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.
The nurse said in a lawsuit that she was stopped in November of 2016 when she tried to drop groceries to Walmart, saying she had already paid, according to AL.com. He said he used self-checkout but the scanning device froze. The workers did not accept his explanation and he was arrested for shoplifting.
The $200 he was asking for was more than the price of the groceries he was accused of stealing.
A spokesperson told AL.com that the company would file a motion in the matter because it “does not believe that the decision is supported by evidence and that damages exceed the limits permitted by law.”