‘Shoplifting’ Grandma Gets $1.2 Mil From Macy’s

A jury has awarded $1.2 million to a woman falsely accused of shoplifting at Macy’s in Georgia.

Patricia Johnson bought some clothing for her terminally ill son, who later died. As she exited, she stopped at a shirt table, pulled out a pair of shorts from the bag of clothes, trying to see if they would match the shirt. Deciding no, she put the tagged shorts back in her bag and left.

Thereafter, she walked to her car and two plainclothes detectives intercepted her. Jackson tried to show her receipt but the detectives refused to see it and told her to follow them to the detention center.

Stories of women abducted and killed in the same parking lot flashed through Jackson’s mind. She refused. She wanted to call the police on her cell phone. The detectives said no, took her cell phone, handcuffed her and brough her inside. In the detention cetner she was patted down and handcuffed to a metal bar. Jackson began crying, askeing to call the police or her husband. She was not allowed either. A detective read her a statement saying she was guilty of shoplifting and banned from Macy’s.

She held for 15 more minutes until the detectives matched her receipt with the items in her bag. Jackson was released. The manager said she could receive a discount on the clothes she bought.

Patricia instead opted to sue the store and was awarded $1.2 million in a settlement reached last Thursday. The grandmother is said to be so traumatized by the incident that she won’t go shopping by herself.

Read more: “Jury awards woman $1.2M” [Ledger-Enquirer] (Thanks to Bard!)


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  1. “The grandmother is said to be so traumatized by the incident that she won’t go shopping by herself.”

    On the upside, that means at least one kid will be spared striped socks and Babysitter’s Club books this Christmas.

    Seriously though, is this what we’ve come to? Was it worth it, Macy’s? Was it?

  2. DeeJayQueue says:

    It’s a shame to have to think this way, but it’s stories like this exact one that keep a voice in the back of my mind whenever I walk into a store saying “Keep your hands out of your pockets, don’t pick anything up you aren’t going to buy, there are cameras watching you and they’ll harass you if they even think for a second you might have stolen something.” Damn shame it happened to an old woman too. Meanwhile there were proabably hoardes of things getting stolen by professionals while all the guards were too busy falsely accusing her.

    • zakool21 says:

      I don’t even worry about it. I’m waiting for the day I get harassed by some store’s monkey for not showing a receipt or whatnot, and I’ll let the manager have it. I’m glad this lady got what she deserved from them. Maybe it’ll make Macy’s and others think twice about this kind of illegal behavior.

  3. GenXCub says:

    Good for Grandma. This made me flash back to the Best Buy story on this site, about the guy who had a vigilante crusade about the “Final Indignation” that they have there (and, of course, at Fry’s).

    The moral of the Best Buy story was that shopkeeps have to go through a list of criteria before they can detain someone (observed concealment, and leaving the store). However, the Macy’s story makes me think someone read the Best Buy story… learned the lesson… but then applied that to every situation regardless of how it affects customer service.

    The part I don’t buy is “so traumatized by the incident that she won’t go shopping by herself.” I can see not wanting to go into that Macy’s again because of it. But I think grandma is tired of getting the groceries too, so now she has an excuse!

  4. GenXCub says:

    DeeJay – Perhaps something like this could lead to something a little more sinister (but not undeserved): Faking a shoplift.

    Every time you buy something in a store, do exactly what Ms. Johnson did. Hopefully, you’ll get treated the same way, and then pocket a cool 1.2 mill…

  5. officedrone4 says:

    Just want to throw out a little something I learned in college- there is a difference between the types of damages awarded in lawsuits. so its likely that the woman was only awarded so much in compensatory damages (for pain, suffering, etc) and then additional money in punitive damages (used to punish big bad Macy’s).

    So you would have to get treated similarly in a large store in order to get a similar amount of punitive damages. If it happened in Macy’s you might be able to get even more – more punitive damages are awarded for more egregious conduct.

    Also I believe some states limit punitive damages so it would depend on where you lived if you were similarly abused and filed suit.

  6. airship says:

    Whenever someone detained by store security asks for the police, they should be called immediately. Responsible, well-trained security personnel should know this.

  7. iota says:

    The guards should have been fired or in some way reprimanded for not properly following procedure. But unless this is part of some larger problem I’m not aware of, in what way does this incident, this 15 minute ordeal, result in Macy’s having to owe her $1.2 million? That’s a bit much.

    I would’ve taken an apology and the discount and never shopped there again.

  8. DeeJayQueue says:

    Because here in America we have the right not to be stopped, searched or have our belongings seized without a warrant. It’s in the bill of rights. The guards, who weren’t even policemen, did all 3 in one shot, while denying the woman her miranda rights to an attorney, phone call, or help. She was treated worse than a criminal because criminals have rights which even though they might do shitty things, are still observed.

  9. You would have taken the apology and the discount when you were essentially kidnapped, iota? (Handcuffing and imprisoning someone against their will = neither okay, nor legal, unless you’re a cop, which these guys weren’t) If it had been me I would have sued their asses, although I have a feeling they would have more trouble subduing a twenty-year-old, sassy queen like yours truly than some feeble old lady.

  10. TedSez says:

    My guess is that terrorizing shoplifting suspects IS the store’s policy. Since it’s probably very difficult to convict shoplifters in court, they probably just want to scare the bejeebers out of them so they’ll never come back. Of course, a policy like that inevitably sweeps up the innocent as well as the guilty, and it does sound as if they handled the situation both illegally and abominably.

    By the way, the news story never actually refers to the woman as a “grandmother,” a word that overstates her helplessness. A 56-year-old nurse is hardly a little old lady.

  11. ValkRaider says:

    Wow! That set Macy’s back like, three shirts a pack of underwear and a belt. (Seriously – they can afford the 1.2 million, they probably made that during the 15 minutes she was held in the “cell”).

    Serves them right. They should have let her show them the receipt. It is one thing to question her (legit) and another to full on Gitmo her (not legit).

  12. Transuranic says:

    Macy’s, who run Bartertown?

    That’s right – SHOPPER run Bartertown.

  13. AcidReign says:

    …..Too bad she doesn’t live in Alabama. We’re the state who awarded someone fifty million in damages against McDonalds because of hot take-out coffee spilled in a lap!

    …..No, the folks ripping Macy’s off are the employees selling stuff out of their car trunks in the mall parking lot…

  14. OkiMike says:

    I thought this might be my mother for a second–she always shops at Macy’s. But then I realized I could hardly be qualified as “terminally ill”.

  15. ValkRaider says:

    Jesus Christ people. When will this thing die….

    The McDonalds Coffee Lawsuit was NOT in Alabama, it was in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The award was NOT fifty million, it was a punitive reward for 2.7 million. And subsequently the punitive reward was REDUCED to $480,000.