Lesleigh Nurse was arrested for shoplifting groceries she’d already paid for. Even after the criminal case against her was dismissed, Walmart allegedly ordered a law firm to pursue her for the value of the “stolen” goods.
An Alabama woman who says she was falsely arrested for shoplifting from Walmart—and then threatened after her case was dismissed—has been awarded $2.1 million in damages.
According to CBS News, a Mobile County, AL, jury ruled in favor of Semmes resident Lesleigh Nurse.
Nurse, says CBS news, was stopped by Walmart security in November 2016 while trying to leave the story with groceries she had already paid for.
In her lawsuit, Nurse alleges that she used the “self-checkout” lane, where her scanning device froze, forcing Nurse to ask an employee for assistance.
After getting help, Nurse paid for her groceries and tried to leave the store.
However, Walmart staff stopped her at the exit and refused to listen to her when she explained what happened.
Nurse was later arrested on a shoplifting warrant.
While an Alabama court dismissed the charges against Nurse, citing “want of prosecution,” she continued to face harassment.
In December 2016, Nurse said she began receiving letters from a law firm, which threatened to file a civil lawsuit if she did not pay them $200.
According to nurse and her later complaint, Walmart had directed the law firm to pursue recompense for the supposedly stolen groceries. However, Nurse claims that the firm was asking for more money than the groceries were even worth.
Nurse’s lawsuit alleges that Walmart outlets in Alabama have frequently pursued claims and damages against “innocent” customers who were falsely accused of shoplifting.
“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,” Nurse’s suit says.
“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,” the complaint adds.
While the Mobile County jury dismissed several of Nurse’s claims against Walmart—such as false arrest, false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, and slander—the company has nonetheless indicated that it will pursue an appeal. A Walmart spokesperson told AL.com that the company “does not believe the verdict is supported by the evidence and the damages awarded exceed what is allowed by law.”
“We want our customers to have a safe, pleasant shopping experience in our stores. We take measures to help prevent, identify and appropriately handle instances of theft, which is a problem for all retailers that costs the overall U.S. economy tens of billions of dollars each year. We continue to believe our associates acted appropriately,” the spokesman added.
Alabama Live notes that, during Nurse’s trial, an expert Witness testified that Walmart and other major retailers routinely send demands for recompense to customers accused of shoplifting or damaging produce.
Walmart, adds AL.com, has allegedly made hundreds of millions of dollars from the practice in the past two years.