A 59-year-old grandmother was awarded more than $100,000 after a jury found her falsely arrested for shoplifting at a local H&M store. Brenda Moaning now hopes that her case will prompt the store to change its policy. Surveillance cameras captured the whole incident back in May 2011 during H&M’s grand opening at Clackamas Town Center.
“After I saw the video, it’s 15 minutes of me being watched in the store in the dress that I had purchased from them the day before,” said Moaning.
In the footage, the camera focuses in on Moaning several times while she shops and eventually checks out. Before paying the clerk, Moaning offers to pay in advance for a $5 shirt at the front of the store. She pays and then picks up the $5 tee on her way out. That’s when Moaning says officers grabbed her even after the clerk acknowledged the purchase and watched her put the shirt in her bag.
“Both of my arms got snatched behind me at the same time, and I thought about how I had put the top in the bag. So I said, ‘I prepaid. Look at the receipt!’” said Moaning.
Two loss prevention officers and one H&M security guard forced Moaning into a security room, and according to court documents, told her she “looked like a common thief.”
“The ugliest part of the case is they made up a story and fed it to their employees that she was yelling, cursing, swearing and threatening lawsuits and the jury didn’t believe a word of it,” said Greg Kafoury, Moaning’s attorney.
Moaning was awared more than $105,000 for battery, false arrest and punitive damages by a Multnomah County jury. Moaning says she believes she was targeted because of her skin.
“I’m humiliated. I’m hurt. I’m angry,” said Moaning.
H&M commented on the case in a written statement on Tuesday, saying “We apologize for all the inconvenience we caused the customer. We have full respect for the judicial process. This case has now been settled and we have no further comment.”