Skip to comments.TSU grad wins $9 million in Wal-Mart suit
Posted on 03/28/2010 3:04:30 PM PDT by OldDeckHand
A Houston woman who was wrongly arrested in 2008 at the Walmart in Meyer Park has won a $9 million jury verdict.
Nitra Gipson, 24, filed a civil lawsuit against the retailer after store employees accused her of trying to exchange counterfeit Walmart money orders for cash. She was arrested and spent two days in jail. The Harris County District Attorney's Office declined to pursue charges after it was determined that the money orders were genuine.
That meant Gipson had been falsely accused and falsely arrested.
(Excerpt) Read more at chron.com ...
I don't know if Walmart keeps such records, but it's probably the most costly mistake by a $50K a year employee in the history of the company.
I’d gladly do 2 years in jail for $9 million. WHere do I sign up?
Is it that easy to make 9 mil???? Geeesh!
In fact, we call this a "Pac Man" in my firm. Today's aggressor is tomorrow's target running for cover. Turnabout is fair play, I guess.
Not worth 9 million but without question Wal-Mart screwed-up here in a very big way and the Wal-Mart lawyer who sent that letter is a moron.
Reminds me of the IRS agents that were sent out into the field to collect four cents.
Thus the idiocy of Wal-Mart is approaching the idiocy of the federal government.
This will never stand up to appeal.
“Walmart money orders”? Like an American Express or Western Union money order, but it says Bank of WalMart or something like that on it instead?
Find a big company and get them to do something incredibly stupid to you and presto! You to can be a multi-millionaire.
Yeah, I’m kinda thinking that the idea of medical tort reform is a pipe dream.
A Harris County court jury on Friday determined that Wal-Mart Stores Texas should pay $8.2 million in actual damagesHow in the world did they get to $8.2 million in ACTUAL damages?
Wal-mart has sold money order for years. They have their own pet bank for something called their Wal-mart Money Centers. They do check cashing, money orders, money transfers, bill payment, things like that.
"A Harris County court jury on Friday determined that Wal-Mart Stores Texas should pay $8.2 million in actual damages and $820,000 in punitive damages."
I can't imagine how they reached $8.2 million in compensatory damages.
Even with the formula (federal formula) that the US government uses to grant compensatory damages to people who have been falsely imprisoned, you wouldn't even come close to $8.2 million for a year (maybe 10 years), let alone two days.
It was 2 days not two years!
I could see maybe $20K, but 8.2 million and $820 thousand in punitive damages... it makes no sense. Please, somebody explain it in any reasonable manner.
Nice numbers for headlines but, we all know that those numbers go away on appeal. Her attorney will get a tidy sum and she will get pretty good compensation because Wal-Mart aggravated situation and the was too stupid to settle. Just remember at last count about 18 cents of every dollar you spend at Wal-Mart goes to cover loss and liability. Wait for VAT.
In know...and I would do two YEARS for 9 MILLION.
I'm not defending the award, in fact I question it just above your own comment. But, I imagine much of those "damages" come from the defamation portion of the suit. Even still, $8.2 million seems WILDLY outrageous and excessive. By comparison, Richard Jewel who was defamed in the 1996 Olympic bombings, hasn't collected much more than $8 million, if even that.
Tort law isn't my area, so I couldn't give you a better explanation than that, sorry.
If I got tossed in jail on a bogus charge I know I would be looking for blood! How do you ever get out from under the stigma of going to jail reputation wise?
Me though I want everyone in the equation to pay up. The arresting officer, the idiot who accused me, and so on. Maybe 8.2 million is a bit much but all involved should feel the sting harshly for disrupting the life of an innocent citizen!
Appears to be a royal screw-up by Walmart, but $9 million?
I wonder what the jury looked like? I’m sure Walmart can/will appeal, right?
Pac-Man? That’s hilarious. Reminds me of a comedy skit called ‘SBC Packers’ by Rex Navarette. I never could understand the joke until a Philippino friend of mine explained the trouble with pronouncing the letter ‘f’ and the letter ‘p.’
I didn't read the article so I don't know the facts. If her attorney is smart, he'll tell her to take the half mil they will probably offer her.
Thank you. I thought it would be pretty close to that.
The arresting officer has no responsibilty here. Unless he is a forged document expert and knew the money orders were real and still arrested her. As it stood, he had a complainant (walmart) and they wanted charges pressed. It was a good faith arrest.
I thought Richard Jewel had passed on? He never got to enjoy the money which I think he deserved myself. He was heinously slandered on a national scale.
He did, I think a couple years ago. But, I believe all of his lawsuits had been settled. I remember he settled with NBC, a NY newspaper and maybe CNN.
“Reminds me of a comedy skit”
Reminds me of my 9th Grade Latin teacher at Prep School. He was Dutch, had an accent, and had been in the Dutch Undergound. We’d get him to tellin’ War stories, and he’d tell us about the German Fokkers flying over. Only he didn’t pronounce it “Faw-kers” like we did. His first syllable sounded like “Fuh-!” He’d crack us up every time, and he couldn’t figure out why! Good man. Brave man! Good teacher!
Although Fokkers was a Dutch company, they were in Germany for a while, and then moved back, but were pretty much confiscated by the Germans.
Good point about Jewel. If Wal-Mart would have been a Network News Org. or a daily rag and just reported this gal a thief and huckster, and then the report got her arrested and sued, she would have gotten nothing.
basically, yeah. I believe Wal Mart owns its own bank for the purpose of clearing these transactions and the like. As far as the original story, 9mm may be a stretch, but I don’t have a problem with WM getting hit with a substantial penalty. Depriving someone of their liberty unjustly is a big deal to me, whether the government does it or some other entity.
Yes. They'll probably file a motion to reduce, remittitur or a new trial. Will that motion prevail? Who knows. I see a settlement (a handsome settlement) in my crystal ball.
Wait are you telling me that if I accuse someone of something illegal in my store the police must arrest someone?
Sorry but Police have discretion to arrest and they should suffer for arresting someone falsely! There was no hurry, WalMart had the evidence and the police could have verified the crime before arresting an innocent victim. I mean someone did verify that the documents were genuine eventually so we know its possible.
The arresting officer should feel the financial sting too so the next time he/she will do some checking before arresting!
Police can arrest someone under the standard of reasonable suspicion. Legally speaking, that's a pretty low bar. If Wal-Mart, the issuer of the negotiable instrument, tells the police that the money orders are counterfeit, that in and of itself constitutes reasonable suspicion.
Suing the police wouldn't have bore fruit, in my estimation. But, clearly Wal-Mart was defamatory in their accusation, and the jury made them pay a price.
I got a Walmart money order a few months ago and it was drawn on a bank in Alaska, I assume is so it will take forever to clear.
That's interesting. It appears Jewell sued everyone and their brother. He may have indeed collected more than $8 million. It's tough to tell as the settlements (mostly) aren't publicized. It's also interesting that one suit (Cox Communications) is still ongoing almost 14 years later.
Is it not exactly what the political class did to the American citizenry during the financial meltdown and bailout; all the while lining their pockets throughout the process! So, why should we complain about this person’s reparation.
Nope. It will clear in a matter of days, not weeks. There are banking regulations that say the bank can only hold those funds for several days with 2 as the minimum and 9 as the maximum. It's called Regulation CC, if you want to research it further.
Why don’t you do an experiment? Buy a Walmart money order and deposit it in your checking account to see how long it will clear. Do the same thing with a postal money order as a control.
He knows that because he plays as the finance expert on the Internet.
That’s hilarious! I would have been laughing, too!
Here’s the SBC Packers skit.
if I was the arresting officer I would want to know who made the determination AND I would want them to point out the flaws in the document as compared to a genuine document. Simple questions could have avoided this mistake.
The arresting officer was at fault just as much here. The bar should be set much higher for such things. Hell Police will spend weeks before they arrest someone for murder. Why the rush for justice here? She sold her car and got the documents in question as payment. A simple check of the car title would have verified that story.
I've dealt with bogus money orders before and tried to cash one it was sent to me through the mail for over $600.00 for an online purchase, under this scenario I should have been arrested. Seems a bit ridiculous to me.
Yes if a company wants to swear out a complaint for what they believe to be a $4000 theft, an officer must arrest. Mistakes were made, but at the time of arrest, Walmart reasonably believed she was stealing and the officer had probable cause.
Wally World accused her of bearing counterfeit — not stolen — money orders. It would have been simple enough to have traced the money orders to their origin had there been a question.
The huge verdict seems predicated upon the non expungement of a felony charge and its calculated effect upon Nitra’s projected career. If Wally World does the right thing and retracts the complaint, that may end up reduced. So far they have not done the right thing. Appeals are unlikely to put much of a dent in it if Wally World remains obdurate.
The student was stupid, only deal in cash, certified checks or gold bullion with strangers. Honestly, anyone stupid enough to take money orders from a complete stranger as payment does not deserve a large settlement.
If she had received money, it would have been grand larceny. But yes she was probably charged with possession of fraudulent documents and attempted grand larceny. I don’t know about the case as a whole, I’m just saying the initial arrest was in good faith.