A woman who took Walmart to court instead of paying $200 to settle what she said were false allegations of shoplifting has been awarded $2.1 million by a jury in Alabama. In her lawsuit, Lesleigh Nurse said she was leaving a Walmart with her husband and children five years ago when she was stopped and accused of stealing groceries she had already paid for, AL.com reports. She said she used a self-checkout and was assisted by an employee when the machine froze up. Nurse said she was arrested for shoplifting—and after the case was dismissed around a year later, she received letters from a law firm threatening to file a civil lawsuit if she didn't pay a settlement of $200.
According to Nurse's lawsuit, Walmart instructed the law firm to send the letters with the demand for $200, which was more than the cost of the groceries she was accused of taking, the AP reports. WKRG reports an expert testified that Walmart routinely tried to collect money from alleged shoplifters, and had raked in hundreds of millions of dollars in states where the practice is legal. "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 lawsuit stated, per AL.com.
The lawsuit alleged that 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 the retail giant. Walmart, whose attorneys argued that the company had done nothing illegal, said it will be filing legal motions because it believes "the verdict is supported by the evidence and the damages awarded exceed what is allowed by law." (Read more Walmart stories.)