A jury granted an Alabama woman $2.1 million for the troubles she went through after being wrongly accused of shoplifting in Walmart five years ago.
In 2016, Lesleigh Nurse was falsely identified as a shoplifter as she made her payment at a malfunctioned self-checkout station. She paid for the goods but the scanning device froze as she was trying to self-check out, explained Fox Business.
Despite a Walmart associate being there to help her with the machine, she was still arrested. Nurse was accompanied by her husband and three children at the time, CBS 42 reported.
Her case was dismissed after no one from Walmart appeared in court. Yet a year later, a Walmart-affiliated law firm informed her that she would face a civil lawsuit if she failed to pay $200 in settlement. An amount was four times greater than that of the items Nurse bought, which in total was only $48 in value.
Nurse sued the supermarket franchise as she knew she did not commit any crime. She said while Walmart accused her of shoplifting, it did not provide any footage at the trial that could back its claims.
“It would have shown the truth, and that they didn’t want the truth to be shown,” Nurse said, who alleged Walmart was exploiting the criminal accusations for chances of civil recovery.
During the case, Ryan Sullivan, a law professor at the University of Nebraska, testified that Walmart has been relying on civil recovery laws in many states to legally demand money from people it accused of shoplifting.
According to Sullivan, in just two years, Walmart collected more than $300 million through the same civil demand system it applied to Nurse on 1.4 million others across the U.S.
“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,” the complaint said, Fox Business quoted.
Nurse won the jury’s favor which instructed Walmart to pay her $2.1 million in punitive damages on Monday, Nov. 29 2021. The woman said she hoped the major ruling would influence change.
“I don’t want anybody else to have to go through this again,” she said.
The following day, Walmart said in a statement it would file more motions, alleging that the verdict was not “supported by the evidence” and the fine “exceed what is allowed by law.”