Greenback woman claims false arrest at Wal-Mart

By Darren Dunlap
of The Daily Times Staff

A Greenback woman claiming Wal-Mart loss prevention officers should not have detained her over an alleged theft wants $2.25 million in damages.

Charity Mae Hicks, Cloyds Church Road, Greenback, filed suit against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and loss prevention officer Paul Thompson on Monday in Blount County Circuit Court.

Hicks said she was arrested on a theft charge on May 27, 2008, with another woman at Wal-Mart, 1030 Hunter's Crossing Drive, Alcoa.
Boyce Smith, manager for the Wal-Mart in Alcoa, had no comment about the suit.

Hicks alleged that she and the woman went to Wal-Mart and split up to shop. Hicks said she paid for her purchases while her acquaintance said she did not have enough money for hers. They were later detained, and the other woman admitted to taking items. Hicks told Thompson she hadn't known anything about the alleged theft, and the other woman confirmed that, the suit alleged.

Hicks claimed Thompson and another employee interrogated her in front of several store employees who congregated in an open doorway. She alleged she was taken from the building in front of customers and employees in handcuffs, and later spent four to five hours in jail that day.

She said Thompson searched her car without permission and later told her employer about the theft charge, which resulted in her suspension from work.

The charge against Hicks was dismissed in January, she alleged.

She said that at no time did store loss prevention officers have any evidence that she took anything, or that she knew her acquaintance took anything. Hicks alleged they held her without probable cause, and that statements in the affidavit filed in Blount County General Sessions Court were libelous.

She wants a jury trial, legal costs, up to $750,000 in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages.