Thursday, May 17, 2007

If Billing Dispute, Customer Not Guilty of Shoplifting. State v. Goodmann 390 NJ Super. 259 (App. Div. 2007).

The court held that a customer who, following a billing dispute with Walgreens regarding the cost of photo processing, takes the finished photographs without paying for them, but gives his name and address to the store manager, cannot be found guilty of shoplifting. Photo processing constitutes a service, and therefore, Walgreens was not acting as a "merchant" when it contracted to develop the customer's film. Further, the photographs that Walgreens produced were not "merchandise," because they lacked value to anyone other the customer and were not salable.
The court also held that a customer, engaged in a billing dispute, who left contact information so that the dispute could be settled, cannot be found to have "purposely" taken possession of the "merchandise" with the intention of converting the same to his own use without "paying to the merchant the full retail value thereof."