Big-Box Banishment: Wal-Mart Bans Gay Couple From Store for Life After They Prove Their Did NOT Shoplift

225px-new_walmart_logosvgj26Attorneys Joe Paolucci and Thomas Hitchcock were declared persona non grata recently by Wal-Mart – banished from the store for life. Their banishment came after they had proven that they had not shoplifted a package of bic lighters from the store. The gay couple alleges that before the banishment they were subject to abusive homophobic treatment by store employees, who seemed intent on showing that they shoplifted that lighters worth $15.84.

The incident occurred in August when Paolucci — a former general counsel for a real estate company — went with his partner and their adopted twin boys from Romania. The boys are 11 years old with special needs and the men wanted to buy them a reward for being good that day. The couple owns a store in the nearby town.

While Hitchcock bought the groceries, Paolocci made a couple trips to buy additional items — using the self-check out line. After he bought the lighters, he and Hitchcock walked out with their boys when they were stopped by a group of Wal-Mart employees who accused them of shoplifting the lighters. They expected immediate apologies when they showed them the receipt but, they said that the employees began to use vulgar language and yelling at them — causing their boys to start “crying, screaming and freaking out.”

They were told that they would have to go to the “detention room.” Unwilling to go anywhere with these employees, they declined and insisted on speaking to the manager. They say that manager came out, announced that he was the manager, and then promptly walked away.

Notably, when the police arrived, they also reportedly refused to speak with the men. Instead, they cuffed Paolucci and put both men in separate patrol cars. The boys were taken without their consent to the “detention room” and put into the care of the very same Wal-Mart employees.

The Berrien County (MI) Sheriff’s Department allegedly only spoke to the men after reviewing the tapes and concluding that their was no shoplifting. No one apologized to the men. Eventually the twin boys were brought back to their parents.

Now, here is the kicker. When the Wal-Mart employees came back out, they read from a statement that was not an apology but a banishment for life. The public declaration adds a nice medieval touch to the scene. Their status as persona wal-marta non grata was due to their “being uncooperative.”

They were told that if they did not leave the premises immediately, they would be arrested as trespassers.

The men later called police to complain that one of the twins had been injured by employees when they were shoved into the detention room. They wanted their own charges filed against the store, but no such charges have been brought by the police.
The police report says that Paolucci and Hitchcock were “causing a scene, being very loud and disrupting customers while yelling and swearing at Wal-Mart security.” The officers admit that they did threaten to put the boys in custody if they did not quiet down. They also admit that the tapes clearly showed that no crime had been committed.

However, the couple has produced a letter from a law firm representing Wal-Mart where Wal-Mart insists that they are shoplifters and demands $158.40 payment (or will seek legal action). Wal-Mart has long been criticized for abusive and senseless litigation positions, here and here. That is 10 times the value of the items that the police determine never not shoplifted.

Of course, this is still better than now Wal-Mart employees handle suspected shoplifters in China, here. Once again, it is not clear what this blog would do without Wal-Mart.

Just for the future, this is how banishment are properly done:

For the full story, click here.

42 thoughts on “Big-Box Banishment: Wal-Mart Bans Gay Couple From Store for Life After They Prove Their Did NOT Shoplift”

  1. Gyges:


    When we put it in the secondary I tried to use the siphon hose with the bottle attachment in the primary. My friend was using a sterile syringe to try and get the beer moving, that did not work so he started sucking on the syringe. I finally realized the bottle attachment had a valve in it that prevented what we were trying to do. But the little bit of beer he did get, he said was pretty dam good. And that’s not even bottled! I say as I pat myself on the back.

    Now I have commited hubris and the Yeast God is going to boar hog me and my beer.

  2. Byron,

    Nah, the majority of fermentation is done in the primary fermentation. Think of it as letting the beer ripen.

  3. Gyges:

    we put it in the secondary but it is quiet as a mouse, not one gurgle. Did we kill it?

    We plan on bottling on Sunday, it will be about 2 weeks and then leave it in the bottles for 2 weeks and then get drunk. I am glad I am not an alcoholic, making beer would not be conducive to consistent/persistent inebriation.

  4. How exactly does a store employee detain somebody for 2 hours? If they tried to detain me, they would have to assault me to do it.

  5. “I would think the store employees could be held liable if something happened to those children while they were in the custody of the employees.”

    I agree

  6. Ther’s More–

    From the newspaper article:

    “He (Paolucci)said he was shocked when he was immediately handcuffed, without a question being asked, and placed in the back seat of a squad car. Hitchcock wasn’t handcuffed but also was placed in the back seat of a second squad car.

    “The twins, despite the protests of Paolucci and Hitchcock, were turned over to the store’s security personnel, who took them into the “detention room” or what police referred to as a security room.”


    It appears from the article that the children were put in the detention/security room without their parents. I find it difficult to believe that store employees could be granted legal cognizance/jurisdiction over someone’s children. I would think the store employees could be held liable if something happened to those children while they were in the custody of the employees.

  7. Elaine M.,

    The statutes don’t mention what to do with the minor children.

    I would imagine that the store employees, who are authorized to detain a suspected shoplifter, would be granted temporary cognizance over the minor children until the police arrived.

  8. There’s More–

    You wrote: “Indiana Law permits the store employees to detain the person accused of theft for up to 2 hours.”


    Does the law also allow store employess to detain the children of people accused of theft?

  9. Gyges:

    this yeast is a beast! it blew the water in the airlock out, I thought it was going to look like the “Blob”.

  10. Byron,

    The most suspect thing in most of those kits is the yeast. All three forms of hops used in brewing have their advantages and disadvantages.

    Try different things, see how much convenience you’re willing to trade for control and cost. Read Papizan’s book, he gives a really good description of the trade offs involved in the different methods.

  11. Gyges:

    I did not really look, the kit had a pelletized hops. I probably wont do another kit because I like the idea of using the flower as has been done for a few centuries.

    They weren’t very pungent though and this surprised me given the amount of sugar that was used. I have a feeling this is going to end up very sweet and thick. I think there is a Scottish beer that is like drinking cough syrup.

    Next batch is from scratch with a good hops, but not too much.

  12. Gyges:

    thank you and yes I bought his 3rd edition.

    yes, cleanliness is next to Godliness.

  13. Byron

    Most of sugars that can be fermented will have been fermented by the time the yeast drops out (Which is when you should rack it over, 72 hours is just a guideline), but there will be some minor additional action in the secondary fermentation (and during the bottle conditioning)

    You’re going to have to do some bottle conditioning no matter what to ensure carbonation, but I generally like to do a secondary fermentation. It won’t hurt matters and will probably help.

    The best advice I can give you is to get your hands on a copy of Charlie Papazian’s home-brew book. Basically at this point, you should just relax and enjoy the beer when it’s done. Oh and make sure all your equipment for bottling\racking is very clean. Poor sanitation is the best way to ruin a beer.

  14. Gyges:

    I need your brew knowledge. I am getting back into home-brewing after a long dry spell and brewed a Nut Brown Ale (from a kit) this weekend. It had a hell of a lot of sugar in it what with the malt extract and the brown sugar and the actual malt. It is a diabetics nightmare.

    The question is whether I should place it in a secondary fermenter after 72 hours or put it directly into bottles as the directions call for.

    I am a little worried about leaving it to ferment/finish in bottles for 3 weeks. But a secondary fermenter may cause the alcohol content to hit the ceiling.

    your thoughts?

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