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Is it wrong for store employees to “humiliate” a shopper they accused of using counterfeit coupons?

What if the coupons really were counterfeit, and the couponer is lucky the accusation didn’t lead to an arrest?

We may never know, because an Oklahoma couponer’s lawsuit against Walgreens has been tossed out, nearly eight months after a shopping trip that allegedly left her so shaken, she decided to sue the store for $20,000.

It all started last September, when 37-year-old Khara Davis of Tulsa went to her local Walgreens. She was hoping to score a great deal on Charmin toilet paper, thanks to eight printable coupons she brought, which were worth $8 apiece.

But wait – have you ever seen a real printable coupon for $8 off Charmin? The Walgreens employees certainly hadn’t. Neither has Charmin maker Procter & Gamble, which ought to know.

So when Davis presented her coupons, her lawsuit claims, “the cashier… immediately exclaimed to Plaintiff, in public and within earshot, hearing and site (sic) of others present, that Plaintiff presented fake and/or counterfeit coupons and that they would not be honored or accepted.”

And then things got a little heated. Davis insisted the coupons were real, a manager was called over, Davis asked for her coupons back, the employees refused, and then they called police.

Police investigated but declined to file any charges. Yet the employees still refused to return the coupons, Davis’ lawsuit says, which “forever and irretrievably deprived her of use of said coupons and discounts.”

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Davis’ husband happens to be an attorney. So shortly after the incident, he cracked open a thesaurus, and went to work. A few days later, he had written up a lawsuit that said his wife was “publicly embarrassed, humiliated, pressured, belittled, and preyed upon by the Walgreens store employees,” was subjected “to public hatred, contempt, ridicule and disgrace,” and suffered “distress, anxiety, embarrassment, humiliation and mental anguish”.

And it doesn’t stop there.

“Defendants’ actions were so extreme and outrageous as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and would be considered atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society,” the lawsuit’s purple prose continues. “Defendants intentionally or recklessly caused severe emotional distress to Plaintiff beyond that which a reasonable person should be expected to endure.”

You know what else can cause severe emotional distress beyond which a reasonable person should be expected to endure? Serving in combat. The lawsuit mentions – four times – that Davis is an Iraq war veteran, but never quite says what bearing that has on her penchant for using apparently fake coupons.

It’s possible Davis didn’t know the coupons weren’t legitimate. Her lawsuit claims they were, but she doesn’t say where or how she got them, and neither her husband/attorney nor Walgreens would comment on the case.

In fact, Davis’ husband/attorney apparently didn’t have much to say to the defendant either. After filing the lawsuit, and paying $252 in legal fees, he never served notice to Walgreens. The judge warned him earlier this month that more than 180 days had passed and Walgreens still had not been served. When Davis offered no response, the judge went ahead and dismissed the case yesterday.

So it’s an anticlimactic end to a case that could have answered a lot of questions. Is it a crime to use counterfeit coupons if you don’t know they’re counterfeit? Does it even matter if Davis knew they were real or not? Does a store have the right to confiscate your coupons if it suspects they’re fake? Should employees be expected to handle such incidents calmly and quietly without causing a scene? Does being embarrassed at a store entitle you to a $20,000 payout? And were the Walgreens employees’ actions really “so extreme and outrageous as to go beyond all possible bounds of decency and would be considered atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized society”?

In the end, Davis was deprived of 64 bucks worth of apparently worthless coupons – and ended up paying nearly four times that much to file a lawsuit that she all but abandoned.

So that great deal on Charmin? It turned out to be a bit more expensive than Davis likely anticipated.

2 Comments

  1. Honestly an $8.00 coupon for toilet paper ?!????

  2. Kudos to the Walgreens employees for standing their ground against this fraudster, who was just looking for a quick pay-off settlement that never happened. That’s the reason the lawsuit was never actually served to the defendants. Chalk one up for the good guys!

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