Target Corp. is appealing a federal court jury’s decision to award a Greer woman $3.1 million after the superstore wrongly accused her of trying to pass a counterfeit bill in Greenville three years ago. The appeal is being heard in the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. U.S. Magistrate Bruce Howe Hendricks ruled in May that the amount awarded was “necessary” to deter Target from similar future behavior. In his order denying Target’s request to overturn or alter the jury’s decision, Judge Hendricks said:
Target engaged in moderately reprehensible behavior, which can only be deterred through an award of a moderately large magnitude. Because of the Defendant’s financial strength, a number not unlike the one returned by the jury seems necessary to accomplish that end.
Target also sought a new jury trial to consider damages in the absence of overturning the verdict. Judge Hendricks denied that motion. In October of last year, a federal jury in Greenville found that Target defamed Rita Cantrell when a Target employee distributed an e-mail to other businesses and law enforcement agencies characterizing her as a potential shoplifter and as someone who had tried to pass a counterfeit $100 bill. The U.S. Secret Service arrested Cantrell at her workplace, a Belk store, before determining that her $100 bill was authentic. The jury awarded her $100,000 in actual damages and $3 million in punitive damages.
Source: Greenville News
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