A federal judge dismissed a racketeering lawsuit accusing Walmart Inc and six other retailers of extortion by forcing accused shoplifters to take costly “restorative justice” classes or else be reported to the police.
In a decision late on Friday, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh in San Jose, California, found no proof of a nationwide conspiracy to steer accused shoplifters into paying $400 up front or $500 in installments for the classes from Utah-based Corrective Education Co, and admitting guilt, to avoid prosecution.
Shoplifting is the main source of inventory “shrinkage” for U.S. retailers, causing losses of about $559 per incident, and together with so-called organized retail crime about $17.1 billion in 2017, according to the National Retail Federation.
Koh said the three plaintiffs, who were accused in 2017 of shoplifting from Walmarts in Florida, Georgia and Texas, did not show that the retailers had specific knowledge of a conspiracy.
She said it did not matter that the retailers might use Corrective Education’s database to conduct background checks before deciding to offer the six-to-eight-hour online classes, a portion of whose costs the plaintiffs said was reimbursed to retailers.
“The only alleged commonality each of the defendants have with one another is CEC, whom plaintiffs have chosen not to sue,” Koh wrote. “That is not enough to allege one single nationwide conspiracy.”
Koh also said she lacked jurisdiction over most defendants in the proposed class action because they did not have enough ties to California, and said the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue retailers that did not harm them.
She gave the plaintiffs 30 days to amend their claims against Walmart, Corrective Education’s founders and some of its employees and directors.
Claims against Bloomingdale’s, Burlington Coat Factory, Kroger Co, 99 Cents Only, Save Mart and Sportsman’s Warehouse were dismissed with prejudice, meaning they cannot be brought again.
The plaintiffs were identified as Jane Doe, Mary Moe and John Roe. Their lawyers did not immediately respond on Saturday to requests for comment. Walmart and its lawyers did not immediately respond to similar requests.
Scott Gant, a partner at Boies Schiller & Flexner representing the Corrective Education defendants, said he was pleased with Koh’s thoughtful opinion.
Walmart suspended its use of Corrective Education’s classes in December 2017, the Wall Street Journal said that month.
The case is Doe et al v Walmart Inc et al, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, No. 18-02125.
Trump is ‘a profoundly lawless individual’: Presidential biographer tells Democrats to wake up and go after president
On MSNBC's "AM Joy" Saturday, in the wake of the Ukraine scandal, presidential biographer Bloomberg Opinion executive editor Tim O'Brien laid out how President Donald Trump's presidency has become a pure exercise in criminality — and how House Democrats need to treat this as the threat that it is.
"The Democrats are looking at this as a chess board," said O'Brien. "Republicans see it as a knife fight. They're not even trying to play chess. They've been playing politics at the electoral level and in the Congress by simply trying to rip the spine out of anybody who opposes them. The Democrats are trying to figure out what's the right thing. I honor that, but as long as they sit back and are more concerned about appearances or not upsetting the table, Republicans are going to run circles around them, both electorally and when it comes to Donald Trump."
Trump took out DNI head Dan Coats to install a new acting director in charge of whistleblowers: CIA veteran
Appearing on MSNBC's "AM Joy," a longtime veteran CIA official said the whistleblower, who ran to the inspector general with a complaint about Donald Trump asking Ukraine's president for dirt on Joe Biden, should expect the president and his aides to come after them.
Speaking with host Joy Reid, Jonna Mendez said she saw the first warnings signs that something was up in the U.S. intelligence community when the president forced DNI head Dan Coats and his top deputy out.
"Through the lens of someone who spent 27 years at the CIA, the thing that caught my eye instantly was Dan Coats' resignation follow by Sue Gordon," Mendez explained. "The fact that Dan Coats went into a meeting and said 'Sue, you've got to resign' and that she did, truncating a career that clearly hadn't reached its zenith."
GOP’s cancellation of presidential primaries could blow up in Trump’s face — here’s why
In recent weeks, Republican state party committees have been moving to cancel presidential primaries to prevent Never-Trump conservatives, like former Reps. Joe Walsh (R-IL) and Mark Sanford (R-SC) and former Gov. Bill Weld (R-MA), from challenging the president from the right. So far, Republicans in Arizona, Kansas, Nevada, and South Carolina have all announced they will scrap the voting process for 2020.