Man awarded $1.6 million in suit against Wal-Mart

Wednesday, September 6th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BENTONVILLE, Ark.--A former Wal-Mart worker whose home was raided by company employees and police two years ago won $1.65 million after claiming the company wrongly accused him of theft.

Wal-Mart promised to appeal the award by the jury, which found the retailing giant liable for defamation and invasion of privacy.

Wal-Mart employees and Rogers police went to Clark's home and seized more than 400 items that the company claimed Clark had taken illegally. The items, including computer components, electronic devices and tools, were placed in Clark's front yard in view of neighbors and the news media.

Clark never was charged with theft, and a judge ruled that only 37 of the seized items belonged to Wal-Mart.

Clark repaired damaged merchandise for the company at a business he operates out of his home. He said the seized items included property he bought, electronic items he was repairing for other customers and goods Wal-Mart gave him outright.

Bobby Odom, one of Clark's attorneys, said Wal-Mart should have asked police to investigate if it suspected theft.

"There are times you must stand up and say, 'No, more,'" Odom said.

Clark said he was thankful for the verdict by the Benton County Circuit Court jury. "I wanted to make sure that somebody else did not have to go through this," he said.

Wal-Mart lawyer David Matthews said the company would ask the judge to review the decision before appealing.

"It's apparent that the jury liked Mr. Clark and they felt sympathy for his situation," Matthews said.