WASHINGTON — Dillard’s Inc. Tuesday lost its bid for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case in which the retailer was fined $1.2 million by a jury that found the chain discriminated against a shopper.
As is customary, the High Court didn’t say why it declined to hear the case. The Arkansas-based retailer, in appealing the lower court decision, had sought to make it more difficult for customers to sue retailers.
The case stemmed from civil charges filed by an Overland Park, Kan., woman stopped in 1996 by a Dillard’s security officer on suspicion of shoplifting. Paula Hampton, who is black, was found not to have taken anything.
Hampton filed her lawsuit not on the basis of the shoplifting stop. Her complaint centered on being so flustered after being detained that she felt unable to redeem a free-cologne coupon received after buying a child’s Easter outfit. The jury found that the coupon amounted to a contract and thus she could sue under federal anti-discrimination contract law. Dillard opposed this thinking, arguing that Hampton was never prohibited from redeeming the coupon.