Crime & Courts

Supermarket ordered to pay shopper wrongfully accused of theft over RM13k in damages [NSTTV]

GEORGETOWN: A supermarket in Bukit Mertajam has been ordered to pay RM13,040 in damages and costs to a customer it wrongfully accused of theft and detained by storekeepers four years ago by the High Court.

News portal FMT reported that the plaintiff, Ram Kumar Raman, 61, had sued Wonderful Super Mart Shop Sdn Bhd (Wonderful) in 2020 for battery and wrongful imprisonment.

Justice Rozana Ali Yusoff ruled in favour of his appeal and ordered Wonderful to compensate him RM10,000 in general damages, RM3,000 for soft tissue injuries, and RM40 in special damages.

She also ordered Wonderful to pay a 5 per cent annual interest on the total amount from Nov 9, 2020, the date the suit was filed, and awarded RM3,000 in costs to the plaintiff.

In his statement of claim as quoted by FMT, Ram said he went grocery shopping at the supermarket at about 5pm on April 4, 2020, during the movement control order.

He brought a used plastic bag with a partially torn "paid" sticker from a previous visit to the same supermarket, intending to use it for his purchases that day. He told the court that he had decided to reuse the bag for fear of catching Covid-19.

While picking items from the aisle and placing them in the bag, store supervisor Tan Lean Choo, 61, approached Ram and accused him of theft.

Despite Ram denying the claim and saying he had yet to finish shopping, Tan insisted that he follow her to the back of the store.

Ram had placed eight items in the bag, which were worth RM29 according to a police report tendered in court. This includes a pack of loose tea leaves, groundnuts, a can of sardines, a sachet of seasoning powder, and three packets of brown sugar.

At the back of the store, Ram was confronted by two men, later identified as Tan's son and brother, who were also employees of the supermarket. Ram claimed one of the men punched him in the face.

The incident ended after two policemen arrived who, after hearing Ram's side of the story, advised him to file a police report. They had also urged Ram to seek medical treatment.

The Bukit Mertajam Hospital later found he had sustained soft tissue injuries on his right cheek through the assault.

In its defence, Wonderful said placing unpaid items into a personal bag was against store policy, as shoppers are required to place items in a basket.

The supermarket said the employees detained Ram for trying to leave the store with unpaid goods. They also denied the series of events that occurred later, including the assault claim.

Lawyer K. Simon Murali represented the plaintiff, while Calvin Ho represented Wonderful.

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