A Texas jury has awarded a Houston woman $9 million in a defamation lawsuit against Walmart after she was wrongly arrested and accused of trying to cash fake money orders that were actually real.
The plaintiff, Nitra Gipson, filed the defamation lawsuit against Walmart after she was jailed for two days when employees at a store in Meyer Park, Texas had her arrested for trying to cash counterfeit Walmart money orders.
The 24 year old student was later released after prosecutors determined that the money orders were real. Gipson had obtained the money orders from selling her car for $4,100 to raise money for college tuition.
Even after her release, Gipson alleged that Walmart continued to defame her by sending a letter stating that she owed the company money, and then threatened to file shoplifting charges against her if she did not compensate the company $200, according to a story in the Houston Chronicle.
Defamation lawsuits involve allegations that a defendant publicly made false statements that caused the plaintiff to be seen in a negative light. Following trial in Harris County, a jury ruled last month that Walmart defamed Gipson by wrongfully accusing her of forgery, counterfeiting, shoplifting and theft, and awarded her $8.2 million in actual damages. It then hit Walmart with another $820,000 in punitive damages.