A Houston jury has ruled against Wal-Mart in a case where the store falsely accused a woman of trying to exchange counterfeit money orders. Nitra Gipson, 24, was awarded $9 million in the case where she was jailed for two days on the allegations. Prosecutors later learned that the money orders at the heart of the allegations were perfectly valid.
The company’s lawyers in Utah demanded that she pay the store $200 and threatened a shoplifting action. Notably, the jury found that such claims amounted to defamation and that her compensatory damages were $8.2 million. Only $820,000 of the award was based on punitive damages.
The company has never apologized to Gipson or sought to have the charges expunged over its mistake. They will now pay $9 million over a $200 dispute unless the court reduces the award through remittitur.
She sold her car to help pay for tuition at Texas Southern University, which is why she had the money orders.
Gipson now wants to become a lawyer — she might find the consumer protection courses of particular interest.
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