Can we sue Walmart for falsely being stopped and accused of shoplifting?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can we sue Walmart for falsely being stopped and accused of shoplifting?

My husband went to walmart to buy a few things and he paid for the
items and as he walked out the door the lost prevention guy
approached him from behind and grabbed him by the back of his jacket
and pulled him in the store without identifying himself. They went
back to the back office and store manager and local police came back
there and questioned him and checked his receipt for every item he
bought and verified everything was paid for. It wasn’t until they
watched the video and it showed that it was a kid in front of my
husband that was stealing so apparently the LP guy wasn’t paying
close enough attention and it also was his third bad stop and was
fired. Now Walmart wants to only offer a 300 gift card for the
inconvenience but they don’t realize that my husband almost lost his
job over there big error

Asked on March 29, 2016 under Criminal Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you can show that they did so without a reasonable basis for suspecting you of shoplifting and for some improper or illegal reason (e.g. racial discrimination; because they know you personally and have a personal vendetta against you; etc.), then you may have a viable lawsuit. But they would not be liable if they honestly and with good cause thought you were shoplifting but were mistaken; to not prevent people from reporting crimes, the law does not penalize people for good faith reports or calls to the police. It takes improper motives to possibly impose liability.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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