Shopper who forgot to pay for pajamas sues Wal-Mart over her arrest

Kelly Holleran Oct. 7, 2009, 9:44am

A woman who claims she mistakenly forgot to pay for pajamas and coasters hidden under her purse says a Wal-Mart security guard caused her to be arrested after seeing her walk out of the store with the items.

Denise Macon filed a lawsuit Sept. 30 in St. Clair County Circuit Court against Wal-Mart and Barbara Jean Franklin.

Macon claims she was shopping at the O'Fallon Wal-Mart on Oct. 14, 2007, and had placed a number of items in her shopping cart, including a prescription, a bag of coffee, coasters and pajama bottoms.

When she was finished shopping, Macon proceeded to the cash register, where she placed on the conveyor belt all of the items she intended to purchase except the coasters and pajama bottoms, which she claims not to have seen as they were hidden beneath her purse, according to the complaint.

As Macon was on her way to her car, Franklin grabbed Macon's right arm and jerked her around while accusing Macon of shoplifting, the suit states. Franklin demanded Macon accompany her to the store office, which Macon agreed to do, the complaint says.

Once in the office, Franklin examined Macon's receipt, where she found the pajama bottoms and coasters, which were left in the cart, and the bag of coffee, which the cashier had failed to scan, were not paid for, Macon claims.

"Plaintiff explained to co-Defendant Franklin that she did not intend to leave without paying for any item and offered to pay for all items," the suit states.

However, Franklin refused to release Macon and instead called the police.

A Fairview Heights police officer arrived and after Franklin made a complaint against Macon, the officer arrested Macon at Franklin's urging and charged her with misdemeanor shoplifting, the complaint says.

After a two-day trial in St. Clair County Circuit Court on Aug. 8, 2008, Macon was acquitted of all charges.

But Macon claims she should never have been charged.

"There was not probable cause for Wal-Mart to instigate criminal charges against Plaintiff as it was obvious from the facts that she did not intend to steal any items from Wal-Mart," the suit states.

In the three-count suit, Macon is seeking a judgment of more than $150,000, plus punitive damages, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Bill T. Walker of Granite City and James E. Parrot of the Law Office of James E. Parrot in St. Louis will be representing her.

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