I was caught shoplifting a $6 item from Walmart. I had taken the item out the package, but the item itself was undamaged. They took a picture of me, had me sign a paper, and recorded my driver's licence and phone number. No cops were involved, and they let me go within 10 minutes.
Apparently, people have differing opinions on this question. Theoretically, Wal-Mart could sue you to recover the value of the item. The thing is, in New Orleans, it costs about $500 to file a lawsuit. I don't know what it is in Lafayette, but it's surely a lot more than $6. So Wal-Mart contracts with law firms to send out civil demand letters to scare people. If the law firm actually collects the demand, they split it with Wal-Mart and both are happy.
One of the guys that does this kind of work is Michael Ira Asen. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Asen's letters state that if you don't pay the $200 or $300 or whatever the demand requests, it could grow exponentially. The letters also use a lot of confusing legal language and cite to a bunch of different state laws. They really do try to scare you.
In short, I always tell people to ignore them. I have dealt with a fair amount of these letters, and in every case, the lawyer has eventually gone away when I've told the client to ignore it. It just does not make any sense to file a $500+ lawsuit to recover the cost of a $6 item (or a $200 civil demand). I do know that some of my colleagues may disagree with me; I've heard that others have counseled people to pay these demands. I believe that a different course is best.
Legal disclaimer: This message does not constitute legal advice and is for informational purposes only. This message does not establish an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established once a retainer agreement has been fully executed between you and this firm.
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on their profile in addition to the information we collect from state bar associations and other organizations that license legal professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do not.What determines Avvo Rating?Experience & background
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline