Want to make a million dollars?

Forget about work or business — that path is fraught with frustration and rejection,   sweat and tears. Just go shopping.

Don’t dress too nicely. Do whatever it takes to make it appear as if you might have stolen something.

Ten billion dollars a year is lost by American stores due to shoplifting. Stores hire security guards to prevent theft. Sometimes the guards make mistakes, like the rest of us, and wrongly accuse someone of shoplifting.

If you’re the person wrongly accused, you can make an easy million.

In October we told you the story of Alonzo Jackson and his two friends, who were awarded a million dollars after an Eddie Bauer security guard wrongly accused Jackson of stealing a shirt.

The latest winner is Paula Hampton of Kansas City. She won a grand total of $1,156,000 after she was wrongly accused of shoplifting by a security guard at Dilliard’s department store.

The case hinged on the fact that Ms. Hampton was denied a free fragrance gift.

Not only did Ms. Hampton win big, but she even won more than she asked for. She sought a million dollars in punitive damages, and the jury actually awarded her $1.1 million, plus $56,000 in compensatory damages.

Both the Jackson and Hampton cases hinged on discrimination — both Hampton and Jackson said they were accused of shoplifting because they are black. Amazingly enough, despite the million dollar verdicts, in neither case did the jury decide that the security guard acted with racist intent. In neither case did the security guard use physical force.

The Hampton case was won, in part, on statistics introduced that state a disproportionate number of blacks had been stopped in that particular Dilliard’s on suspicion of shoplifting. Yes, well, so what? There are a disproportionate number of men in prison, as compared to women, yet no one seriously makes the case that men are, as a class, discriminated against in the penal system. (Well, okay, maybe DO will make that argument in the future.)

In addition to the gross injustice of awarding people millions of dollars for minor grievances, these awards, and other cases like them now percolating through the legal system, will have some serious long-range effects. First of all, despite the vast losses due to shoplifting, retailers will be extremely reluctant to accuse anyone of shoplifting. Real shoplifters, of all races, will soon discover that they have a license to steal. Those losses are going to get passed along in the form of higher prices to the rest of us. As it is, honest consumers are the ones that ultimately pay for these damage judgments as well as the huge legal costs involved.

For those readers who think judgments such as the Alonzo and Hampton ones are always overturned or reduced on appeal, we’d like to direct you to the Paula Coughlin story we did earlier this year. The $5 million judgment against Hilton was actually upheld in May. (Hilton was not accused of harassment, but only of not preventing harassment of the naval aviator by her fellow Navy officers.)

In honor of the Hampton ruling, we’d like to introduce a new song, and we hope DO readers will help us with the lyrics. Gather round now, as we all sing:

I’m a victim
And so are you
If we get a good lawyer
We can get rich too!

(Source:The Kansas City Star.)

  • Save this Post to Scrapbook

0 thoughts on “SHOPPING FOR PROFIT!

  1. As extreme as some of the jury awards seem, they have acted as deterrents for further unjust accusations and arrests. Most security guards are not professionals. They are usually minimum wage people and often poorly trained.

    Title 38 of the US code is a travesty of justice and must be revised. Until recently veterans who suffered debilitating frostbite injuries in combat were entirely denied benefits. Frostbite was not considered a combat injury. I worked on a case that turned this policy.

    Title 38 is an artifact of the Civil War and World War I. Look at the archaic forms of language in it. It is adversarial and demeaning in content. The Congress must change it. Who amongst the Congress has the courage to initiate these changes?

    I don’t think that your comparison of the (traditional) mistreatment of veterans and the volume of awards in civil cases is entirely apt. The mistreatment of veterans began long before the advent of large awards in civil cases.

    Respectfully, M.W.S.

    Time: 6/8/98 (7:57:1)

    I have a frivilous lawsuit you will NOT BELIEVE. My sister called me on the phone and forgot hang up the phone, my answering machine picked up (I was not in the mood to speek at the time) and apparently she did not realize she had not hung the phone up. She proceeded to trash my name with another of my sisters (who was visiting her at the time and living with ME at the time). I heard them talk about me and could not believe it. I picked up the phone because I knew my answering machine would hang up. I wrote her a letter describing how hurt I was at the awful things they had said and asked the sister living with me to move out as soon as possible. She went down to the Magistrate in my city and filed Felony criminal charges against me and my husband for plantting a “BUG” in my home. Now I have to hire a Lawyer (she is represented by the “Free to her not free to taxpayers” Commonwealth attorney). I have a Felony charge on my record and all of the grief and time lost from work to fight this rediculious charge. I have been told it may go to the Grand Jury only because the Commonwealth Attorney is an elected officer and does not like to throw civil complaints away at the preliminary hearing because he does not want to loose VOTES!!!! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS?????

    Time: 4/24/98 (14:56:25)

    You’ve obviously never been black and tried to go shopping. I am an African American male with two graduate degrees who earns over half a million dollars a year and dresses the part. Yet I routinely get followed around by security guards. Trying to cash a check is next to impossible; stores routinely ask me for three and four IDs, even after I have stood in line behind white people cashing checks for whom just a drivers license was sufficient. I have had stores call my bank to make sure the check wasn’t stolen, although I have never observed this happen to a white person. And my bags are routinely searched, although I have only rarely seen this happen to whites. Does this treatment justify million dollar verdicts? Probably not. But by the same token, it is extremely difficult for me to feel sorry for the stores when I know from personal experience that racism is a very real problem.

    Time: 12/19/97 (11:31:15)

    Re: The ‘victim’ song you started on 12-12.
    A local folk group has a song dedicated to ‘The Menendez Brothers, [the woman who drowned her car & kids – can’t remember the name], and all the others who had “no choice” but to commit the crimes they did. The song is called “I wanna be a victim” – with the chorus being: “Oh, Momma! I wanna be a victim. ‘Cause when you are there is a dictum, that you are never to bla-a-ame.”

    Great stuff, and a good rallying cry. The name of the group is “Molly and the Tinker” if you’re interested.

    Time: 12/13/97 (13:27:52)

    Don’t even try the race card here!! The point and only point is you must see someone take something or at least see that thier clothes are different before you accuse someone of shoplifting!

    Time: 12/13/97 (12:49:8)

    Adding to your recent refrain on shoplifting 🙂

    I’m a shoplifter, got caught today.
    Got a good lawyer now I’m OK
    Earned a million dollars, for my stress

    Now it’ll cost you more to shop at BEST.

    Time: 12/13/97 (9:49:3)

    Justice: American Style. It would be nice if life fit OUR perception of right and wrong, good and evil. But sometimes, it doesn’t. Take the money and run.

    Time: 12/13/97 (8:47:18)

    it seems to me that if the shoe fits wear it, the USA now stands for – Use A Scam – to get your way, blacks in particular are good at this…

    ever notice how they NEVER ADMIT too their own wrong doing I say to the World GROW up AND get Smart

    Time: 12/13/97 (6:37:36)

    Regarding the comment about the book “Black Like Me:” The author of that book didn’t get “made up” to look like he was black. He injected himself with various dyes that altered his skin color. His death was attributed to those dyes. He died of skin poisoning. So, if you’re planning on trying it to get rich, enjoy the money while you can.

    Time: 12/13/97 (5:10:24)

    Gosh all mighty,
    And golly whiz,
    But we’ll never be rich,
    Like the lawyer is.

    Keep watching the KC Star. A former dillard’s employee came forward on hearing he story and now makes similar claims. What will 3 years of race discrimination get her?

    Time: 12/12/97 (23:0:42)

    Remember the Book of the sixties…”Black Like Me” where a white guy got made up to be black and see what it was like?. I might try that and see what it’s like to be rich……or even easier, just dress in women’s clothes and see if I get some discrimination and dictate a book to a ghost autor “Transvestite Like Me!!!”

    Time: 12/12/97 (20:42:25)

    I am still mad about a grown woman not knowing any better than to put a cup of coffee between her legs, next we will be suing our parents because they did not make us billionaires when we turned 18

    Time: 12/12/97 (17:9:26)

    The continuation of frivilous lawsuits does not surprise me at all. After having served on several juries, I think I will opt for a judges decision everytime over a jury trial.

    A guy on one of my juries kept voting both ways each time! Seriously. On the same jury, a woman and her boyfriend (previously convicted and served time for arson) were suing the insurance company because they wouldn’t pay for their house burning again. The evidence was OBVIOUSLY arson, but three people on the jury wanted to give them “some” money, because the woman’s husband was crippled. Go figure!

    Another jury I was on, a homosexual woman shot her long-time companion to death for trying to leave. She shot her ten times with a five shot revolver (obviously, having to reload) and three of the jury voted for “manslaughter” on the first pass. CRAZY!! (We finally got a vote of murder, after one of the jurors demonstrated how long it took to shoot five times, then reload.)

    Many (not all) people on juries today think insurance companies need to be ripped off. My neighbors file claims all year long to try and recoup the amount of insurance premiums they pay…. Duh!

    In my opinion, we need to return to the old West days where judges that would hear stupid cases and lawyers that would file them would be taken out and hanged. Of course, I’m not saying we should hang them today. Shooting them is a lot more civil…… Starting with the Federal and unSupreme Courts. Congress needs to get their B*lls back and override those bunch of Bozos.

    And last, but not least, next time I’ll tell you how I REALLY feel about this.

    Keep up the good work. Maybe SOMEBODY will listen.

    A DO lover!
    Russ Horton

    Time: 12/12/97 (16:37:39)

    How can the stores fight crime when the punishment of one mistake is more costlu than several years of the crime at that store. When a true shoplifter is caught they never get enough penalty to discourage the next one. Any syndicate would love the odds we give the criminals.

    Time: 12/12/97 (13:39:34)

    I suggest to you guys/gals that you stop this harassment of minorities you have been indulging in lately.

    You seem to be deliberately singling out black Americans as your outrage targets such as Jordan, Sprewell, and today, that poor Mr. Jackson and Ms. Hampton.

    These poor people are undoubtedly the victims of a white society, and they are entitled to whatever compensation they receive.


  2. I bet a white person wouldn’t
    have won a 1.1 million dollar

    To Jeff’s comment about singling out minorities such as Jordan, Sprewell…, open your eyes buddy. Do you consider President Bill Clinton a minority??? He’s the most singled out person in North America. Society doesn’t single out minorities, society singles out people who demonstrate acts of stupidity. Don’t try to tell me that what Sprewell did wasn’t stupid, and childish. Next thing you know people will be mad that society singled out O.J. Simpson. Acts of stupidity is what North Americans want to see when they turn on the T.V.
    It doesn’t matter if you’re black, white, yellow…all that matters anymore, are television ratings.

  3. It does not surprise me to see a nigger win a 1.1 million
    dollar lawsuit. they’re such a pampered race of people!

  4. I’ve been accused of shoplifting
    What a terrible crime
    I suggest we have a sit-in
    Something to pass the time
    Our checks will soon get sorted
    Handed out while we wait in line
    A million dollars for each of us – oh yes, the suckers bought it!
    So let’s celebrate and pour another glass of whine!


    (c) Copyright 2002. This poem was produced by Michael. All rights reserved.

    PS Actually, I agree with the victims receiving large sums. Hell, the rich screw the system for all it’s worth (checked out executive pay lately?), so why not the “little guy”?

  5. For some odd reason I briefly believed (assumed) that the majority of this country was educated enough to know the origins of the word n*gger. I thought that non-blacks understood that the word nigga has been excepted only for protection from more racist verbal abuse. In the past year or so, I have run into racial conflicts involving the casual use of the word n*gger. Apparently my assumption was incorrect. If only you, Dan, could truly comprehend what blacks went through in the 40’s and 50’s maybe you would not use such harmful words. I, an African-American, hesitate to use the word nigga and don’t use the word n*gger. I always remind myself that that word was used by racists when they lynched blacks and it hasn’t been excepted by the African-American community. For you to use that word in the manner that you did is sad. I asks myself why rascism exist. Why can’t we just live with each other without hatred. So many christians, catholics, etc; yet so many hearts filled with hatred. I wonder who’s going to heaven?

    Regardless of your religious background or lack of…Why waste your time hating and using hateful words.

    By your comment i gather that you think racism doesn’t exist or that it isn’t as prevailent in society as commonly expressed. If any of these are true, i beg you to just look at your words.
    “Words from the mouth are the thoughts of the heart”

    if any one e-mails me, write something personal in the subject section of the email so that i don’t assume that its junk mail please.

  6. Well…I don’t think anyone should be singled out at all no matter who they are, what they do, how much money they have, etc. I am recently facing a possible lawsuit on my company that involves racism. I am a white female who has been harrassed by some of the black employees at my work. I have been having a problem with two black females at my work. I am one of those people who, well, I wouldn’t say a party pooper but I just like to voice my opinion when I feel something is wrong. I guess that can be both a flaw and something good. Well, the black employees at my work seem to be getting away with a lot of stuff. Actually, I see them everyday doing everything that is against the policies at our work and getting away with it. It is almost like the black managers are just racist and the white managers are just scared of a lawsuit. Whatever it is, I just know that when a white employee does anything wrong they are either immmediatly fired or watched carefully for more things that they do wrong and then fired. Both incidents involved one of the girls doing something wrong such as…the first girl was gone shopping on the clock or doing something else because she left me in my area working and didn’t return most of the day. I said something to a manager and she got mad and came in the next day threatening me and cussing at me in front of customers. The next incident involved the other black female. She took one of my sales and when I asked her if she knew that I was helping that person she went crazy. She started getting loud and bringing up old stuff and cussing and again threatened me. Again the managers didn’t do anything about it. They called me into the office and started going on about how I was the only one wrong and that I was completely at fault. I felt very embarressed and mistreated. After we went back on the floor she continued to harrass me and say stuff about it not being over yet and such. The story goes on but the point I am getting at is that people sit here and go on about racism against blacks but don’t pay much attention to the everyday racism to whites. Black people think that it is just them who gets harrassed but that isn’t true. It happens everyday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *