A woman who was falsely accused of shoplifting $48 worth of groceries from an Alabama Walmart store wins a $2.1 million judgment against the country’s biggest retailer, according to published reports.
Lesleigh Nurse, AL., was awarded punitive damages Monday by Mobile County Circuit Court jury. Mobile County Circuit Court jury unanimously awarded Lesleigh Nurse of Seemes, AL the money in punitive damages. CBS News reported.
It happened in November 2016. Nurse stated that she was with her husband and their three children at a Semmes Walmart self-checkout counter. She claimed the scanning device had failed and that Walmart employees did not believe her when she tried to explain it. AL.com reported.
As she attempted to exit Walmart with the groceries, Nurse said she had already paid for, she was stopped, CBS News reported.
“I remember going in that little room and thinking this will be resolved, this is an accident, this isn’t on purpose,” WKRG News: Nurse
The 11 items she was accused of shoplifting included, Christmas lights, a loaf of bread, and Cap’n Crunch cereal, the news outlet reported.
After Nurse was arrested and her mugshot taken it was decided that the criminal case against Nurse had been dropped.
According to Nurse, she said that she had told the news outlet. “the damage to her reputation had already been done,” and that due to the criminal charge her ability to make a living suffered.
After the criminal case was dismissed, Nurse alleged in a separate civil lawsuit that she filed against Walmart that she was intimidated by the retailer. According to her civil lawsuit, Nurse began receiving letters from a Florida law firm threatening a civil suit if she didn’t pay a $200 settlement fee, the news outlet reported.
According to her lawsuit, in Dec. 2016, she began receiving letters from a Florida law firm threatening to file a civil suit against her if she did not pay them $200, which was more than the cost of groceries she was accused of stealing, AL.com reported.
Nurse alleged that Walmart instructed the law firm to send the letters.
“The defendants have engaged in a pattern and practice of falsely accusing innocent Alabama citizens of shoplifting and thereafter attempting to collect money from the innocently accused,”According to the lawsuit.
“Walmart funds its asset protection department by intimidating those falsely accused of shoplifting out of making a claim against Walmart out of fear of protracted litigation against an almost limitlessly funded corporate giant.”
According to an expert’s testimony, Walmart and other major retailers routinely used the practice of settlements where laws allow it. WKRG reported that Walmart had made hundreds of millions from this practice over a two year period.
CBS News reported that Walmart failed to record the video of Nurse passing through the self checkout area during the trial. That video would have been proof of Nurse’s alleged shoplifting, according to the news outlet. “It would have shown the truth, and that they didn’t want the truth to be shown,”Nurse spoke.
She continued: “I hope it makes a difference. I don’t want anybody else to have to go through this again.”
Walmart’s defense lawyers claim that the practice is allowed under Alabama law.
A company spokesperson for Walmart said that the retailer plans to file motions to dismiss the verdict, as it doesn’t “believe the verdict is supported by the evidence and the damages awarded exceeded what is allowed by law.”