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TSU grad wins $9 million in Wal-Mart suit
Chron ^ | 03/28/10 | CINDY GEORGE

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 ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: award; jury; texas; walmart
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A staff attorney, probably making less than $50K year, sends a letter to a customer whom the store had already falsely accused of counterfeiting, and demands $200.

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.

1 posted on 03/28/2010 3:04:31 PM PDT by OldDeckHand
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To: OldDeckHand

I’d gladly do 2 years in jail for $9 million. WHere do I sign up?


2 posted on 03/28/2010 3:07:24 PM PDT by WOBBLY BOB ( FIRE STUPAK: LindaForCongress.com)
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To: OldDeckHand

Is it that easy to make 9 mil???? Geeesh!


3 posted on 03/28/2010 3:09:18 PM PDT by Doc Savage (SOBAMP!)
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To: OldDeckHand
Happens every day in the topsy-turvy world of civil litigation. One minute one party apparently has the upper hand; the next minute the other party looks like it has the better case. This is high stakes poker, not for the weak-hearted.

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.

4 posted on 03/28/2010 3:09:44 PM PDT by PackerBoy (Just my opinion ....)
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To: OldDeckHand

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.


5 posted on 03/28/2010 3:09:54 PM PDT by trumandogz (The Democrats are driving us to Socialism at 100 MPH -The GOP is driving us to Socialism at 97.5 MPH)
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To: OldDeckHand

This will never stand up to appeal.


6 posted on 03/28/2010 3:11:18 PM PDT by DRey
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To: OldDeckHand

“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?


7 posted on 03/28/2010 3:11:31 PM PDT by jiggyboy (Ten per cent of poll respondents are either lying or insane)
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To: Doc Savage

Find a big company and get them to do something incredibly stupid to you and presto! You to can be a multi-millionaire.


8 posted on 03/28/2010 3:12:08 PM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: Doc Savage

Yeah, I’m kinda thinking that the idea of medical tort reform is a pipe dream.


9 posted on 03/28/2010 3:12:28 PM PDT by alancarp (Calling all states: Reduce the cost of doing business and jobs will flock to your doors.)
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To: OldDeckHand
A Harris County court jury on Friday determined that Wal-Mart Stores Texas should pay $8.2 million in actual damages
How in the world did they get to $8.2 million in ACTUAL damages?
10 posted on 03/28/2010 3:14:34 PM PDT by SmithL
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To: jiggyboy
“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?

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.

11 posted on 03/28/2010 3:15:32 PM PDT by Non-Sequitur
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To: PackerBoy
This is the most interesting sentence...

"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.

12 posted on 03/28/2010 3:16:27 PM PDT by OldDeckHand
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To: OldDeckHand
John Ramirez, a Houston lawyer who represents the retailer, directed questions to Walmart media relations.

whacky...and when media relations are asked questions, they'll say "no comment" on legal matters.
13 posted on 03/28/2010 3:19:16 PM PDT by stylin19a (Never buy a putter until you first get a chance to throw it)
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To: WOBBLY BOB

It was 2 days not two years!


14 posted on 03/28/2010 3:19:46 PM PDT by aquila48
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To: OldDeckHand
This is ridiculous. 8.2 million in direct damages for 2 days in jail? All of us who shop at WalMart end up paying this.

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.

15 posted on 03/28/2010 3:20:31 PM PDT by marktwain
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To: OldDeckHand

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.


16 posted on 03/28/2010 3:25:14 PM PDT by Steamburg (The contents of your wallet is the only language Politicians understand.)
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To: OldDeckHand

Jackpot Justice!


17 posted on 03/28/2010 3:27:14 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine
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To: aquila48

In know...and I would do two YEARS for 9 MILLION.


18 posted on 03/28/2010 3:27:41 PM PDT by WOBBLY BOB ( FIRE STUPAK: LindaForCongress.com)
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To: marktwain
'This is ridiculous. 8.2 million in direct damages for 2 days in jail? "

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.

19 posted on 03/28/2010 3:28:49 PM PDT by OldDeckHand
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To: marktwain
"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."

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!

20 posted on 03/28/2010 3:29:43 PM PDT by Mad Dawgg (If you're going to deny my 1st Amendment rights then I must proceed to the next one...)
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To: OldDeckHand

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?


21 posted on 03/28/2010 3:29:44 PM PDT by smokingfrog (Free Men wil always be armed with the Truth.)
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To: PackerBoy

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.’


22 posted on 03/28/2010 3:30:55 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine
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To: marktwain
ok, here it is real simple: the jury found her to be credible and sympathetic, and thought Walmarts actions were way out of line. Someone on the jury worked up the rest to sock it to McDonalds. Its called a verdict under the color of passion. Thats why most, if not all, states have procedures for dealing with these things. What doesnt get reported is how the case finally settles. Like everyone knows about the AWARD in the McDonalds coffee case, but they don't know that the ultimate settlement barely covered her medical bills.

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.

23 posted on 03/28/2010 3:32:15 PM PDT by jdub (A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.)
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To: jdub

Thank you. I thought it would be pretty close to that.


24 posted on 03/28/2010 3:34:34 PM PDT by marktwain
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To: Mad Dawgg

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.


25 posted on 03/28/2010 3:35:52 PM PDT by thefactor (yes, as a matter of fact, i DID only read the excerpt)
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To: OldDeckHand

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.


26 posted on 03/28/2010 3:37:10 PM PDT by Emmett McCarthy
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To: Emmett McCarthy
"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.

27 posted on 03/28/2010 3:38:56 PM PDT by OldDeckHand
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To: Jack Hydrazine

“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.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fokker


28 posted on 03/28/2010 3:43:59 PM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
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To: OldDeckHand

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.


29 posted on 03/28/2010 3:45:06 PM PDT by celmak
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To: jiggyboy

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.


30 posted on 03/28/2010 3:46:49 PM PDT by balch3
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To: smokingfrog
"I wonder what the jury looked like? I’m sure Walmart can/will appeal, right?"

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.

31 posted on 03/28/2010 3:47:08 PM PDT by OldDeckHand
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To: OldDeckHand
I'm kind of FOR the jury award, Wal-Mart is not trying to correct the situation and seems stuck on stupid:

“The main problem for Walmart has been the bad publicity,” Kelley said, adding that the retailer hasn't offered an apology, hasn't asked that charges against Gipson be expunged and has not revealed any company policy changes resulting from the incident.

Futhermore, she was the recipient of them in a car deal and even if they were fake just how much do we want to throw at a 24 year old for trusting them as a form of payment? Yeah, and how many of us are now going to exchange in commerce using Wal-Mart cashier's checks now??
32 posted on 03/28/2010 3:47:31 PM PDT by RushingWater
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To: thefactor
"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.

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!

33 posted on 03/28/2010 3:47:43 PM PDT by Mad Dawgg (If you're going to deny my 1st Amendment rights then I must proceed to the next one...)
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To: OldDeckHand
Never mind; Jewel did get something:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Jewell

34 posted on 03/28/2010 3:50:57 PM PDT by celmak
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To: Mad Dawgg
"Wait are you telling me that if I accuse someone of something illegal in my store the police must arrest someone?"

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.

35 posted on 03/28/2010 3:52:19 PM PDT by OldDeckHand
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To: jiggyboy

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.


36 posted on 03/28/2010 3:54:34 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: celmak
"http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Jewell "

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.

37 posted on 03/28/2010 3:55:41 PM PDT by OldDeckHand
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To: Jack Hydrazine
So they take your money and it's not big deal? Lucky the management was not charged for stealing. The bigger they are the harder they fall. They will pay attention next time. My local Walmart tackled a man on the asphalt parking lot in mid summer. Had him cuffed and left him on the hot pavement. He died. All for a pack of diapers.
38 posted on 03/28/2010 3:57:17 PM PDT by Orange1998
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To: Non-Sequitur

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.


39 posted on 03/28/2010 3:58:22 PM PDT by ntmxx (I am not so sure about this misdirection!)
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To: Moonman62
"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."

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.

40 posted on 03/28/2010 3:59:39 PM PDT by OldDeckHand
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To: jdub
Like everyone knows about the AWARD in the McDonalds coffee case, but they don't know that the ultimate settlement barely covered her medical bills.

Wasn't that around $600K?
41 posted on 03/28/2010 4:04:08 PM PDT by andyk
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To: OldDeckHand

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.


42 posted on 03/28/2010 4:07:51 PM PDT by Moonman62 (The issue of whether cheap labor makes America great should have been settled by the Civil War.)
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To: OldDeckHand

He knows that because he plays as the finance expert on the Internet.


43 posted on 03/28/2010 4:08:21 PM PDT by Orange1998
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To: Dr. Bogus Pachysandra

That’s hilarious! I would have been laughing, too!

Here’s the SBC Packers skit.
shttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O2coJq7ztU


44 posted on 03/28/2010 4:12:29 PM PDT by Jack Hydrazine
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To: OldDeckHand
"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."

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.

45 posted on 03/28/2010 4:15:22 PM PDT by Mad Dawgg (If you're going to deny my 1st Amendment rights then I must proceed to the next one...)
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To: OldDeckHand
Ah WalMart will appeal, and the monetary award will be reduced to 100K.
46 posted on 03/28/2010 4:19:39 PM PDT by svcw (Religion is like giving someone who is dying of thirst mouthwash.)
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To: Mad Dawgg

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.


47 posted on 03/28/2010 4:27:35 PM PDT by thefactor (yes, as a matter of fact, i DID only read the excerpt)
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To: thefactor

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.


48 posted on 03/28/2010 4:38:31 PM PDT by HiTech RedNeck (I am in America but not of America (per bible: am in the world but not of it))
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To: OldDeckHand

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.


49 posted on 03/28/2010 4:40:42 PM PDT by BushCountry (scratch here ############################### to reveal my thoughts on the Obama Administration.)
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To: HiTech RedNeck

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.


50 posted on 03/28/2010 4:46:07 PM PDT by thefactor (yes, as a matter of fact, i DID only read the excerpt)
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