Oregon Jury Award H&M Shopper, Brenda Moaning , $105,000 After She Was Falsely Accused of Shoplifting

A Multnomah County Circuit Court jury awarded Brenda Moaning (center) $105,000 for false arrest and battery while being detained in May 2011 by loss-prevention officers for H&M. She is flanked by her attorneys, Jason Kafoury (left) and Greg Kafoury. Aimee Green/The Oregonian
A Multnomah County Circuit Court jury awarded Brenda Moaning (center) $105,000 for false arrest and battery while being detained in May 2011 by loss-prevention officers for H&M. She is flanked by her attorneys, Jason Kafoury (left) and Greg Kafoury.
Aimee Green/The Oregonian

A Multnomah County jury awarded $105,000 to a 59-year-old African-American woman who was secretly followed by video camera in the Clackamas Town Center H&M clothing store before she was swept off to a back room and falsely accused of shoplifting.

Brenda Moaning was one of hundreds of excited shoppers to flock to the opening days of the mall’s H&M store in May 2011, but she was singled out by loss-prevention officers.

During a five-day trial, she claimed it was because she is black. Monday, jurors said Moaning didn’t prove racial discrimination, but at least nine of 12 agreed H&M had committed false arrest of Moaning and acted with malice. Jurors also found H&M committed battery for temporarily taking her purse.

Moaning said she had mixed feelings about the verdict, feeling vindicated on some points but disappointed that jurors found race didn’t play a role.

Moaning said store security had no reason to watch her before she was apprehended: Moaning had all necessary receipts for items in her bag, but she testified that loss-prevention officers grabbed her by the arms and pulled them behind her back, told her she looked like a “common thief” and wouldn’t let her go.

Sweden-based H&M has 3,200 stores worldwide. “How do we let them know that’s not who we want to be?” said one of Moaning’s attorneys, Greg Kafoury. “How do we get that message all the way back to Stockholm, Sweden? They may be in 54 different countries, but I’m sure there’s one language they understand. The language of money.”

One of H&M’s attorneys, Katie Buxman, contended that Moaning was not grabbed or called a thief — and that race had nothing to do with the May 13, 2011, incident.

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Source: The Oregonian | Aimee Green | agreen@oregonian.com 

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