Two Black Men File Lawsuit After Returning TV To Walmart
Two black men were accused of stealing a television and then attempting to return it at a Houston-area Walmart. Both men were black and the employees were white. The black customer had already presented the employees with a receipt for the television totaling over $300 when he and his friend were cuffed on suspicion that they stole the television.
The lawsuit claims that Walmart violated their civil rights, falsely imprisoned them, and racially profiled them. The 55-year-old man works as a road foreman and a church deacon. Those who witnessed the event said that the man felt so humiliated and ashamed that he actually began crying and begging for answers as to why he was being treated like this.
Walmart issued a statement saying that they don’t tolerate discrimination by their employees but are still investigating the allegations and have no further comment as litigation is still pending. After all that, the customer was not allowed to exchange his broken Walmart television for a working one, so he is also alleging breach of warranty and contract. The two men were released after a female employee told them to get the F out of the store, take their Fing TV and never come back. However, before they could leave, the men were forced to sign a criminal trespass warning stating that if they ever set foot in Walmart again, they would be arrested.
The plaintiffs are demanding a jury trial, compensatory damages, and punitive damages.
Is this case possible to win?
It depends on whether or not the jury believes that Walmart was justified in handcuffing the men. Once the employees and their security personnel laid hands on them, it became potentially battery unless they had an authorized reason for doing so. The employees will claim that the two men appeared suspicious for some other reason than the fact that they were black. However, the plaintiff in this lawsuit did not suffer any apparent physical injury. He only suffered the pain and humiliation of being detained wrongfully by rent-a-cops, which is upsetting, for sure, but is not a physical injury.
While plaintiffs can file lawsuits on the basis of intentional infliction of emotional distress, they must make another claim alongside it. For example, you can sue for intentional infliction of emotional distress if you get beat up. Essentially, you add the allegation as an aggravating claim against the defendant. In cases where there is no physical injury, infliction of emotional distress lawsuits are impossible to win.
In this case, the primary allegation would be false imprisonment or false detention. The employees are accused of ignoring a receipt presented by the defendant, and assuming that he was a criminal. They then laid hands on him against his will, handcuffed him, and threatened him.
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