TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

April 10, 2008

Woman sues K-mart over shoplifting charges

Suit alleges she was wrongfully accused, strip-searched

By Brad Hicks / Staff Writer

A Laurel County woman has filed suit against the K-Mart corporation and two local K-Mart employees after she claims she was wrongfully accused of shoplifting and subsequently strip-searched.

The complaint, filed on April 3 in Knox County Circuit Court, charges that on May 8, 2007, Deborah Morton was leaving the Corbin K-Mart location after purchasing some items, including one shirt. According to court documents, she was also carrying three shirts she had taken into the store with her. Morton was then stopped by an unknown defendant and employee, referred to in the complaint as “J. Sparks,” and accused of shoplifting shirts, according to the complaint.

Morton was then led to the store’s customer service desk, and then led by a second unknown defendant and store employee, identified in the complaint as “Taylor,” into the women’s restroom where she was strip-searched in view of other customers, according to the complaint.

The complaint then alleges that Morton was taken into the store’s security room and held there for approximately two hours, where she was denied food and water and prohibited from answering calls on her cellular phone.

The suit further alleges that “Taylor” engaged in a phone call in which they discussed strip-searching Morton and “J. Sparks” forced Morton to sign an incident report without allowing her a chance to read it. It also states that the shirts Morton initially brought into the store were retained by employees there.

Morton was charged with misdemeanor charges of theft by unlawful taking under $300 on the day of the incident. The complaint said those charges were dismissed in June 2007 in Knox County District Court.

The suit charges K-Mart and the two aforementioned defendants with 12 counts. Counts of false imprisonment were filed against the two employees. A count of malicious prosecution was also charged because of sworn statements the unknown defendants and the K-Mart Corporation made charging Morton with theft, although she was later dismissed due to a lack of evidence present in court, according to the complaint. Further counts charged were two of intentional infliction of emotional distress, one of conversion, two charges of invasion of privacy/false light, three counts of negligence and a count of vicarious liability.

Morton is seeking an unspecified award, including actual and punitive damages, as well as attorney’s fees.

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