The Utah Supreme Court has upheld a jury's finding of liability in a 1982 malicious prosecution and wrongful termination case filed against Gibson Products Co. and a former store manager.
The 25-page decision also left in place the district court jury's award of $88,000 in damages to Shauna F. Hodges.In September 1981, Hodges was accused by then Gibson's Discount Center manager Chad Crosgrove and other officials of the Salt Lake County store of stealing an unspecified amount of store receipts.
In writing for the high court, Justice I. Daniel Stewart noted that the store did not investigate the possibility that Crosgrove - who also had access to the store's receipts - may have stolen the money.
Hodges was arrested and at a May 12, 1982, preliminary hearing bound over for trial.
Before the trial could proceed, a Gibson company audit discovered that Crosgrove had embezzled about $9,000 in cash and goods during a period that included the loss blamed on Hodges, Stewart wrote.
In May 1982, after eight months on suspension and despite dismissal of the charge against her, Gibson fired Hodges. The company alleged she had "failed to follow proper procedures."
A jury found both Gibson and Crosgrove liable for malicious prosecution, but not liable on the emotional distress complaint. Gibson also was found liable for wrongful termination.
The jury awarded Hodges $70,000 in compensatory damages and $7,000 in punitive damages against Gibson. Crosgrove was ordered to pay Hodges $10,000 in compensatory damages and $1,000 in punitive damages.