The 59-year-old African-American woman who was falsely accused of shoplifting from an H&M store in Oregon was awarded $150,000 on Monday, although the jury did not find loss-prevention officers guilty of racial discrimination.
In May 2011, Brenda Moaning went to the new H&M clothing store that had just opened in the Clackamas Town Center.
What she anticipated to be a day full of bargain hunting, however, ended in a legal nightmare.
Security cameras followed Moaning while she was shopping and after she purchased her items at the register, she was apprehended by the store’s security personnel.
After a trial that lasted for five days, the jury awarded Moaning $150,000 for false arrest and battery.
Jurors found the store personnel guilty of battery because they temporarily took Moaning’s purse.
While she was happy that the jury ruled in her favor, Moaning said she had mixed feelings about the verdict because the jury didn’t find that race played a part in the security personnel’s actions.
Despite what the jury thought, Moaning said she doesn’t feel safe as an African-American shopper at H&M anymore.
“Now, when I do go into stores it makes me wonder, ‘OK, is a code being called because a Black woman has entered the store?’ “ She said. “I feel like I’m being watched.”
According to H&M’s loss prevention officers, Moaning was singled out for several reasons.
Because Moaning was carrying an H&M bag, wearing an H&M dress, and was recognized by officers because she had been to the store three times in the past two days, the officers considered her to be suspicious.
After telling the store’s employee that she wanted another $5 cardigan, but didn’t feel like getting back in the long line, the clerk allowed her to pay for two cardigans and pick up another one on her way out.
On the cameras, Moaning can be seen lifting up the cardigan to show it to the employee before nodding and walking out.
That’s when loss-prevention personnel caught up with her.
According to the jury, another major factor in the ruling was that it took the officers more than 15 minutes to release Moaning after she had supplied them with all of her receipts.
The jurors timed how long it took them to look through Moaning’s receipts and pair them with the corresponding items to ensure she paid for everything.
While it allegedly took security 16 minutes to complete the task, the jurors finished in roughly five – causing the jurors to believe that not all of those 16 minutes were really dedicated to just looking through receipts.
Jurors also found a problem with H&M’s claims that Moaning was yelling loudly about a lawsuit.
Cameras displayed an employee with her ear to the door of the interrogation room, which jurors felt suggested no one inside the room was yelling loudly enough to be heard clearly on the other side.