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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011

    Default Wrongful Accusation of Theft

    I'll try to make this as short as possible..

    My 79 year old grandpa was shopping at McLendon Hardware in WA state. On his way out of the store, a security guard stopped him and motioned for him to follow. He doesn't speak English and followed the guard voluntarily. The security guard took him to a room and started searching him (as if he stole something). Upon finding nothing, he motioned for him to sit down and to wait. Grandpa did because he was hiding nothing and wasn't afraid of anything. The guard came back with two packs of bolts and handful of nails, put it beside grandpa, and started to take photos. At this point, GR figured something was not right, started to get up to leave, but was immediately handcuffed. The guard kept pointing to the camera over and over again and kept repeating something that looked like he was saying that the camera caught him. Police was called and an interpreter told him he is being accused of shoplifting (told him over the phone) and is being taken to jail. He was at the jail approx. 4 hours before they were able to get a hold of me and told me to come pick him up. I cannot even come close describing what an emotional wreck he was for the next couple weeks. He's an immigrant here, who came from a communist country, and never in his whole life imagined he'd be wrongfully accused of such things. His record is otherwise completely spotless.

    Within a couple weeks, he got a letter from the city court having to appear, etc.... we then hired a lawyer to get this thing off his record. Along with the lawyer, we tried to get the security tapes that "supposedly" caught him shoplifting - NOTHING was provided from the store. THe security guard literally vanished - wasn't showing up at work and nobody was able to get a hold of him for questioning/interview. He didn't appear to any of the court hearings. The store basically provided no proof of their accusations, except a statement from the security guard that consisted of like 5 words with numerous grammar/spelling errors - something to the effect of "he was seen shoplifting". After all the court hearings, the time I had to take off work, the stress, the money paid to the lawyer, emotional distress (not mine, but GR's).... the case was dismissed as if nothing happened. That was the goal, but I'm so lost/confused/angry. How can the security guard falsly accuse somebody of stealing, put us through all the torment, disappear, and not bear any consequences..?

    Basically, my question is: Can I go after the store for the damages (time off work, legal costs, emotional damages, etc)?

    thanks - any advice will help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Wrongful Accusation of Theft

    You have no claim against the store. Whatever moral imperative you found for helping your grandfather, you weren't accused of anything, and you were not required to take any time off of work or attend court hearings.

    Your father can discuss his situation with a lawyer. If he can substantiate his version of what happened, he has a potential civil claim against the store.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011

    Default Re: Wrongful Accusation of Theft

    Mr Knowitall,

    Thanks for the reply. I'm sorry, I was actually asking FOR my grandfather. I wasn't planning on filing any claims against the store personally..... My question should have been.. Can HE go after the store for damages? And you answered that... thanks!

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