“Bull Moose Music Settles Lawsuit”

Doug Harlow reports for the Kennebec, Maine Sentinel on a lawsuit brought under the Employee Polygraph Protection Act. Excerpt:

WATERVILLE — Bull Moose Music and a former employee have come to terms on a combined lawsuit filed after the store allegedly was robbed by a masked man in August 2001.

Vickie Shuman, 20, now of Oakland, then of Fairfield, was working alone at the store on Elm Plaza two years ago when she told police she had been robbed of approximately $5,000 as the store was closing for the night.

Store officials suggested that Shuman had manufactured the story about the robbery and in fact had taken the money herself.

When Shuman refused to take a lie-detector test, she was fired. She then filed a lawsuit against the music store seeking reinstatement and payment of lost wages and benefits.

She also sought damages for emotional distress and unspecified punitive damages, according to the lawsuit filed in Kennebec County Superior Court in December 2001.

Through its lawyer, Kevin J. Beal of Lewiston, Bull Moose defended Shuman’s termination and countersued, charging her with fraud and theft of $5,000 cash. The company also sought punitive damages from Shuman.

“There was a settlement and the charge of theft against her was dismissed, pursuant to the agreement. She was fully satisfied with the settlement,” Shuman’s lawyer Jason M. Jabar of Waterville said Wednesday. “I would say the conclusion is that her name is cleared.

“She feels her name has been cleared. She got a label she didn’t think was fair.”

In his response to the claim, Beal took Bull Moose’s defense a step further, charging in the written document that it was Shuman herself who robbed the store and took the money.

Shuman “planned and conspired to steal some or all of the cash” from cash registers, deposit bags, the store safe or other locations, according to the counterclaim.

The company alleges that Shuman stole the money and gave it to a coconspirator who had agreed to assist her, then falsely reported the robbery to Waterville police.

Jabar said at the time that leveling such a charge without proof or evidence was a dangerous move on the part of Bull Moose and its lawyer.

Shuman had told police she heard a knock on the back door the night of the alleged robbery. When she opened it, she reportedly was confronted by a man standing about 6 feet tall, wearing a ski mask.

The alleged robber said to Shuman: ‘Give me the money or I’ll shoot you,’ although he never displayed a weapon, police said.

Deputy Police Chief Joseph Massey said at the time that police officers were near Elm Plaza when the robbery call came in and responded in less than a minute and found no one matching the description.

The police investigation turned up neither the money nor the culprit in the robbery. Shuman had worked at the store for 2 1/2 years.

On Sept. 27, 2001, according to the lawsuit, Bull Moose officials ordered Shuman to take a lie-detector test as a condition of her continued employment at the store.

The claim argued that Shuman’s firing and the order to take a lie-detector test in the first place were violations of United States Code.

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