Racial Discrimination Action Against Wal-Mart Trial Date Set: Pre-Trial Testimony Shows Wal-Mart Spied on African-Americans at In-Store Clinic, Says Maumelle Medical Clinics’ CEO Jerry Poole
LITTLE ROCK, Ark., Nov. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Jerry Poole, an entrepreneur with eight years experience in the health care field and owner of the "30 Minute Health Clinic"™ for which he had a contract with Wal-Mart Stores, arrived on the morning of May 28 last year with the doctor who headed the clinic's medical team. The clinic, which had been open for seven months was seeing roughly 1200 patients a month, had several patients scheduled for that day and Poole was eager to get the office ready. After several minutes of trying to work the key in the lock, he puzzled why it wouldn't open. Little did Poole realize that this incident involving a lock that had been tampered with, would lead to legal battle the likes of which had not been seen since Watergate.
Poole's concern for his scheduled patients led him to finally phone an executive at Wal-Mart. Poole says he was told that Wal-Mart had changed the locks and were cancelling his lease without any notice. Poole knew his legal rights and was sure that he had followed the strict regulations governing health care clinics.
Poole assembled one of the finest teams of civil rights attorneys in modern history including Mark Lane, world famous author and attorney, who worked with and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the early days of the Civil Rights Movement, to Q. Byrum Hurst, a prominent litigator and David Bowden who has won several major cases.
Poole and his Maumelle Medical Clinics, Inc. filed suit in Federal Court seeking a temporary restraining order and demanding immediate reopening of the clinic. The case goes to trial on December 12, in the United States District Court, Western District of Arkansas, Hot Springs, before Hon. Judge Robert Dawson.
"It appears to me that Wal-Mart was upset that many African Americans were visiting the clinic. They complained to the police about the 'Black Males' and 'Black Females' and referred to them 'suspicious' and an 'uncontrolled crowd.' They were patients at the clinic just waiting for the Wal-Mart pharmacist to fill their prescriptions," Lane said.
"One of the saddest aspects of this suit is not only the resurgence of the egregious racial discrimination in our city," plaintiff Poole stated, "but that we could have seen and treated 20,000 people who needed care since our clinic was locked down."
Plaintiff Maumelle Medical Clinics, Inc. is Poole's corporate entity and the "30 Minute Clinic" is his brand and was the subject of a lease agreement between Poole and Wal-Mart Stores Arkansas, LLC, from October, 2009. The clinic opened on November 2, 2009, and within a month went from seeing eight patients a day to 1200 patients a month. Since the closure by Wal-Mart Poole estimates over 20,000 people have been denied good quality health care since there are no other clinics like his in the vicinity.
Recently, Poole attorney Mark Lane deposed a woman who works as a security guard, or as they are now called, "Asset Protection Coordinator," by Wal-Mart. The security guard gave sworn testimony that she worked in the Wal-Mart store where Poole's "30 Minute Clinic" was situated. She testified that she monitored security cameras that had a 360 degree view of the store including the "30 Minute Clinic." She also testified that she had seen security videotape of the area inside the store. As recorded by the Little Rock Police Department, the witness admitted that she had phoned the police in April, to report what police logs state was an "uncontrolled crowd" which she said was interfering with the flow of people in checkout lines.
When examined further by Lane, the witness admitted that she was "looking for possible shoplifters." However the witness said that she did not call the police because she had witnessed "any possible shoplifters." In her testimony, she admitted to having spied on people though she swore that her call to the police was about an "uncontrolled crowd." Lane asked the witness if she observed any screaming, fighting or pushing. The witness said, "No." While the witness didn't deny that the people she observed were customers, she said that they were "a large group preventing our customers from being able to get out of the register lines."
Lane asked the witness what the designations in her own report meant when she put the letters, "BM." The witness answered "Black Male." And asked what "BF" meant by counsel, the witness answered "Black Female." And after her testimony was concluded it was clear that in terms of what she reported as "suspicious activity," in every single instance, the witness testified, "The suspicious activity was - Yes, related to Black Female or Black Male." The witness testified that nothing in terms of their clothing or demeanor (whether they wore uniforms, brandished weapons, wore masks or carried placards) distinguished them to her other than the fact that they were African Americans.
SOURCE Maumelle Medical Clinics, Inc.