A jury has ruled in favor of a Houston woman who was wrongly arrested in 2008 at a Wal-Mart store and awarded $9 million in damages. Nitra Gipson filed a civil lawsuit against the retailer after store employees accused her of trying to exchange counterfeit Wal-Mart money orders for cash. The woman was arrested and spent two days in jail. The District Attorney’s Office declined to pursue charges after it was determined that the money orders were actually genuine. That meant Ms. Gipson had been falsely accused and falsely arrested. The jury awarded $8.2 million compensatory and $820,000 punitive damages in her case.
After Ms. Gibson had been released from jail, Wal-Mart lawyers, based in Utah, sent her a letter claiming that she owed Wal-Mart money for taking merchandise. The letter threatened to pursue a shoplifting charge if the poor woman didn’t pay $200. The jury found that Ms. Gibson had been defamed by being accused of forgery, counterfeiting, theft and shoplifting. Lloyd Kelley, a lawyer from Houston, represented Ms. Gipson and did a very good job. Hopefully, Wal-Mart and their lawyers learned a lesson from this case.
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