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Wal-Mart to Appeal Defamation Award


JACKSON, Miss. (AP) _ Wal-Mart will appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court an $8.5 million verdict awarded in a Chickasaw County man's defamation suit, the company's attorney says.

A judge recently refused to throw out the defamation award in favor of former employee Lamon Griggs, who had been accused of shoplifting tobacco.

The company could have asked the judge to reduce the award, but it chose not to.

``He didn't deserve one penny,'' said Wal-Mart attorney Bill Luckett of Clarksdale.

The fight started when Griggs, a Chickasaw County resident, was fired in 1997 from his job as a truck driver and accident investigator at the Wal-Mart store in Hammond, La., after being accused of shoplifting.

Griggs said Wal-Mart had defamed him. He sued and won his lawsuit in September in Chickasaw County Circuit Court.

Wal-Mart says it did nothing wrong and that the $8.5 million verdict was excessive.

It asked Circuit Judge Andrew Howorth to either throw out the verdict or order a new trial.

Howorth refused.

Although Wal-Mart argued the verdict ``is excessive and shocks the conscience,'' the company did not ask that the award be reduced, Howorth said in his order. Howorth said the court won't reduce the verdict on its own.
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