Alleged shoplifter sues Wal-Mart over forceful detention

Kelly Holleran Mar. 30, 2009, 6:59am

A Port Arthur man has filed suit against Wal-Mart, claiming he was injured when store employees accused him of shoplifting and used force to detain him.

Michael Anthony Harris claims he was shopping at the Wal-Mart located at 4999 Twin City Highway in Port Arthur on March 13 and paid at a register in the back portion of the store.

Harris alleges he was leaving the store through its front entrance, when he was confronted by four Wal-Mart employees, including defendant David Treml.

The employees accused Harris of having items in his bags for which he did not pay, according to the complaint filed March 25 in Jefferson County District Court. Harris claims he immediately handed the bags to the employees.

"Plaintiff said, 'Just take the bag and let me go,'" the suit states.

However, the employees would not let Harris leave the store until police arrived, the complaint says.

Harris alleges workers then threw him to the floor and placed him in handcuffs.

"Plaintiff's arms were violently jerked as one of the employees secured Plaintiff with handcuffs," the suit states. "Defendants had no legal authority or justification to detain plaintiff."

According to the complaint, Harris asked the employees to release him from the handcuffs because of his pain, but the employees refused to do so until the police arrived several moments later.

When a police officer arrived, Harris claims the officer recognized the severity of his injury and immediately transported Harris to the hospital. Harris states he was told he had a dislocated shoulder.

Because of the incident, Harris claims he incurred medical costs and experienced physical pain and suffering, physical impairment, disfigurement, mental anguish and fear of a future disease or illness.

The plaintiff alleges Wal-Mart and Treml committed acts of negligencee, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, assault and vicarious liability.

Harris is seeking unspecified exemplary damages, pre-judgment interest at the maximum rate allowed by law, post-judgment interest at the legal rate, costs and other relief the court deems just.

He will be represented by Langston Scott Adams of Port Arthur.

The case has been assigned to Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: D183-630.

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