Embarrassed Customer Sues Wal-Mart

Dec 13, 2002
George Anderson

By George Anderson

A woman in Kansas is suing Wal-Mart for more than $75,000 in damages claiming that the store invaded her privacy and made her feel like a criminal.

Tamie Dragone claims to having been detained and interrogated by police after dropping family snapshots off at the local Wal-Mart’s one-hour processing center. The pictures contained shots of the woman’s three-year old playing without a shirt in a kiddie pool and another of her bare behind while on the living room floor.

Ms. Dragone says she was approached by a uniformed Salina police officer who took her to the Wal-Mart manager’s office and questioned her about the pictures for 45 minutes. The police did not permit Ms. Dragone to take the photographs with her when she left.

She told the Topeka Capital-Journal, “There was nothing inappropriate about them (the photographs). This was a child being a child. This is not like taking nude pictures of a 10-year-old.”

Cynthia Illick, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart said the store was simply following company policy. “In a case where child pornography or abuse is suspected, the photos are brought to the attention of the store management and a determination is made to contact law enforcement. We always (err) on the side of safety when it comes to children.”

The local prosecutor’s office chose not to file charges against Ms. Dragone after reviewing the photos.

Moderatoro’s Comment: Where do retailers draw the line
between a customer’s right to privacy and sensitive areas such as protecting
a child’s welfare?

This and the recent case of the ‘traveler’ woman caught
on videotape hitting her child in a Wal-Mart parking lot are clear examples
that retailers are being forced to go where they never went before.

Retailers are not police, as this case demonstrates. Based
on this report, it also appears as though the real police might be better off
considering a job in retail – just not security. [George
Anderson – Moderator

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