A woman who was falsely arrested for shoplifting at Walmart and was subsequently threatened by the company after her case was dismissed has finally seen the light of day.
On Monday, a Mobile County Circuit Court jury awarded $2.1 million to Lesleigh Nurse of Semmes.
In a lawsuit, according to AL.com, nurse claims she was stopped leaving a Walmart with groceries she claimed she had already paid for in November 2016. According to her, she tried self-checkout, but the scanning device froze. Her explanation was not accepted by the workers, so she was arrested for shoplifting.
Despite being dismissed after a year, she got a letter from a Florida law firm threatening to sue her if she didn't settle for $200, according to the lawsuit. It was more than what was allegedly stolen in groceries.
In 2018, Nurse filed a lawsuit that exposed the practice of relying on a little-known state law to collect money from people who had been accused of shoplifting. Some of those accused may, however, have been wrongly accused.
In states with loosely written laws, Walmart and other major retailers routinely use this practice, according to an expert witness. Over the course of two years, Walmart made hundreds of millions of dollars from this practice.
As reported in the New York Times, Walmart also allegedly set a collection goal of $6 million for one of its go-to firms in 2016. Also, many states do not require retailers to refund money collected if cases are dismissed or people are cleared. However, this rarely, if ever, happens.
Legislation allowing retailers to seek restitution without requiring them to prove guilt was created to allow companies to pursue shoplifters without clogging up the courts, but retail companies are still moving on both fronts, pressing criminal charges and demanding that suspected individuals pay the fines.
Walmart's lawyers argued that the practice is legal under Alabama law.