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Wednesday, June 22,2011

Area man sues Wal-Mart over shoplifting bust

By Jim Phillips
A Coolville man is suing the Wal-Mart corporation, alleging that store security personnel at the Athens Supercenter store on East State Street falsely accused him of trying to steal a computer hard drive, then got rough with him, during an incident in January.
By the Athens NEWS' press time Wednesday, Wal-Mart's corporate headquarters in Arkansas had not yet responded to a request for comment on the suit.

David Covert, 32, was charged with theft after he allegedly tried to shoplift from the store on Jan. 3. He ended up pleading in February to a reduced charge of unauthorized use of property, a fourth-degree misdemeanor, and paying a $100 fine plus restitution for the cost of the hard drive.

Covert, however, claims he never tried to steal anything from the Athens Walmart. In his lawsuit, filed Friday in Athens County Common Pleas Court, he alleges that he was "falsely accused of shoplifting and escorted by (the store's) security personnel to a private room where he was falsely imprisoned, and excessive force was used against him causing bodily injury."

Documents relating to Covert's case filed in Athens County Municipal Court indicate only that he was accused of concealing $69 worth of merchandise in a purse, and then trying to leave the store with no intention of paying for it.

Covert said Wednesday that the merchandise in question was a computer external hard drive, priced at $34.50. He said he was in a cashier's line with his fiance, getting ready to pay for the hard drive and other items, when store security personnel took him into custody.

Covert said the hard drive was in his fiance's purse, sticking out and visible, when he was stopped for allegedly trying to steal it. He claimed that while shopping he had taken the item out of its packaging earlier to inspect it for possible damage, and that the packaging material was lying in his shopping cart when the store detective apprehended him.

He said he really doesn't understand why he was accused of shoplifting.

"Quite honestly, I don't know," he said. "I was pretty angry at the time."

The excessive force claim in Covert's lawsuit stems from his allegation that while he was in store custody, a store loss-prevention officer shoved him twice, injuring his shoulder. This happened, Covert said, after he stood up and angrily demanded the return of his ID card.

Covert said he agreed to take a plea bargain in the case on the advice of an attorney from the Ohio Public Defender's office, but that he was not guilty of any crime. The offense to which he pled guilty, he said, is "basically like a speeding ticket."

Officially, the defendant in Covert's lawsuit is Wal-Mart Stores East, LP, a branch of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., based in Bentonville, Ark.

His suit does not name a specific damage amount he's seeking, but asks for recovery from Wal-Mart "sufficient to compensate him for his damages," as well as attorney's fees.

The suit was filed by Scott H. Kaminski, an attorney from Charleston, W.Va.


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not at suprising...its well known that WM is the most sued company in the US, i think it may even be in the new Guiness book of records ?

       most in store security goons are bored to death for drama, they sit in a dark room and watch video cam screens for ten hour shifts, it boggles my mind how anyone could do anything that boring with their life, would being in a comatose hospital state be all that much different, regarding this case , if the guy had the item sticking out of yet inside of a purse even ten percent or such, it is still legally concealed, say what you may about WM but they know all the tricks, i worked there for a xmas job once and it was unreal how many take tiems into the bathroom to steal them, its a wonder they just dont seal off their bathrooms, they would easily stop about 90 % of all the shoplifting






K.  I'm gonna ask the obvious question:   Why did yer grrrlfriennn have the hard drive in her purse?


i have been in that walmart when visiting athens ,an i have drank a pop on hot days in the store and allowed to pay for the opened pop without any hassles. tthe security needs to stop being so tight butted, watch for the cigerette thieves. convicted felon.



Are you kidding me?  Who opens up  a computer hard drive in the store, takes it out of the packageing then puts the hard drive in his girlfriends purse, then leaves the packageing in the cart? That has got to be one of the lamest excuses I've heard yet.  It also sounds like he was setting up his gf for the fall by sticking the hard drive in her purse. 

I was in Wal Mart one evening and they busted some punk who put on clothes and tried to walk out.  He also said he was innocent as he tried to flee and was taken down by security guards. Tags were still on the clothes even.  DUH!






I have followed this case closely, and i was glad to hear they fired the security guard, as he has no right bye law to use force or to detain any person no matter the issue. I am also glad to see that this fellow stood up against wal-mart as my friend was once accused of theft at wal-mart, and he just let it go. We need more peole like this fellow to stand up against people that dont abide bye rules becasue they have billions of dollars. I am also glad to see that he will be getting a hefty settlement from this. As for the comment about the conseled item. The law states that as long as there is visiblity of the item in any way it is in no way considered conseled. They should have left the man finish paying for hit items and then approched him to see the receipt but being as wal-mart thinks they can do what they want they pulled the guy from the line with out letting him pay for all the items..if they would have done that, then the guard would still have his job, and wal-mart wouldn't be getting sued. I believe the guy is innocent, because you certainly cant be guilty if you are not alowed to pay for the item at hand. One last thing, as for the guy opening the hard drive in the store, i am the same way i always check a product before i buy it, and so do thousands of people, this guy did the same as we all do except he put just the package back in the cart so that he could use it to scan the item. So i say Go Mr. Covert Thanks for being someone that actually stands up for yourself.

                                Law Study.