Woman claims false imprisonment at Schnucks

By Steve Gonzalez | Dec 18, 2006

Schnucks in Granite City

A woman who was accused of shoplifting from the Granite City Schnucks filed suit against the grocery chain in Madison County Circuit Court Dec. 12, claiming her constitutional rights were violated.

Paula Johnson of East St. Louis claims that in December 2002, she was seated inside a parked vehicle loaded with groceries on the Schnucks parking lot.

She claims while she was in the car, she was approached by a Schnucks employee to look inside the vehicle.

Johnson claims the employee searched all 10 bags of groceries that were purchased at another store and after finding nothing there, took two black leather purses that were on the floor board of the passenger side of the car.

"Defendant store agent detained plaintiff and falsely and maliciously accused plaintiff of stealing bottles of aspirin found in one of the purses," the complaint states.

She claims Schnucks detained her without any probable cause and imprisoned her in a closed room on the second floor for an unreasonable amount of time restricting her freedom of movement.

"Plaintiff was subjected to great indignity, humiliation, and disgrace in being imprisoned," the complaint states.

Johnson claims Schnucks knew the aspirin did not come from their store since they do not even carry the brand of aspirin she bought at another store.

"Plaintiff was deprived of her liberty," the complaint states. "Malice is the gist of the action."

Johnson claims she suffered emotional distress, mental anguish and has incurred expenses for medical treatment.

Johnson, who represents herself, is seeking actual damages in excess of $50,000.

She also claims that since Schnucks disregarded her rights and welfare, imposition of punitive damages totaling $150,000 is appropriate.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Nicholas Byron.

06 L 1114

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