Morrison Mahoney partner John Knight recently secured a defense verdict in New Hampshire’s Cheshire Superior Court following a six-day trial.

The plaintiff brought claims of negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress and wrongful confinement after she was improperly identified as someone else who had been banned from a Walmart store in Keene, New Hampshire. The evidence was undisputed that the Walmart employees wrongly identified the plaintiff as someone who was not allowed to be in the store. The employees also failed to follow numerous Walmart policies and procedures regarding the handling of the situation.

The plaintiff claimed that she was forced to stay at the store until the police arrived despite her claims that she was not the person Walmart believed her to be. She had a long history of PTSD, and she claimed that this event triggered a relapse that caused a major setback with regard to her overall mental health. She also claimed that the incident traumatized her two children, and plaintiffs’ counsel asked the jury to award “substantial six figure damages,” including enhanced damages because of the allegedly egregious nature of the Walmart employees’ actions.

The defense conceded that numerous mistakes had been made in the handling of the situation but argued that the actions did not rise to the egregious conduct alleged by the plaintiff. Additionally, the defense challenged the alleged damages and argued that the vast majority of the damages were unrelated to this incident. The defense expected that the jury would find that the conduct of the employees amounted to negligence (the store manager testified that the situation was mishandled from the beginning until the end) but argued that no damages, or at most minimal damages resulted from this negligence. After one hour of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of no negligence as to all three plaintiff claims.