Girardi | Keese

Shoppers file class action against Home Depot

A class action law suit has been filed against Home Depot by shoppers who feel the chain not only intimidated and harassed them in numbers said to be in the thousands, but also caused those same shoppers to pay millions of dollars to have the shoplifting charges against them dropped. This was reportedly even as Home Depot itself never had intention to sue the accused customers.

In the suit, it is stated that Home Depot has utilized California's Civil Shopping Law as "a profit center" by which it has been seeking damages from customers it has accused of shoplifting.

The complaint, which was filed in the Alameda, California, Superior Court, names one plaintiff, who went shopping with a friend at a Home Depot in San Leandro on June 6. As both men began to load lumber onto a cart, they put on a pair of work gloves to protect their hands. The gloves cost $3.99 a pair.

The complaint says the plaintiff took off the gloves and put them on the merchandise inside the cart before the plaintiff's $1,445.90 purchase was made. Even so, the checkout personnel didn't scan the gloves.

While leaving the store, the plaintiff was stopped and accosted by a Home Depot security guard, who told the plaintiff he had failed to pay for the two pairs of gloves. Both men were taken into custody by Home Depot security, in which during the 30 minutes of detention, the plaintiff suffered an asthma attack.

The suit further alleges release of both men was contingent on them showing identification and signing a document in which it was stated that would agree to stay out of the store for 90 days. Both men complied. Both were also given a one-page document titled "Notice of Intent to Exercise the Rights and Potential Remedies of Home Depot," in which it warned, "You may face both criminal charges and a civil claim related to this incident. You will soon receive further information from the Home Depot's attorneys regarding demand for the civil penalty."

A letter did come on June 10, which demanded the plaintiff to pay $350 within the next 20 days or risk being sued by Home Depot for theft of merchandise. After the plaintiff did not respond, a second letter arrived July 5, informing the plaintiff he now had to pay $625.

If you're a well-intentioned consumer, you don't have to take this from a big corporation who seeks to make additional money off its patrons by false accusations, then forcing them to pay fines. If involved in an ordeal like this in which class action lawsuits are merited, your participation could help you get the compensation you deserve.

ABC News, "Home Depot Accused of Shaking Down Shoplifters" Alan Farnham, Sep. 11, 2013

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