By LINDA STEWART BALL
DALLAS - A Dallas-area woman has found Neiman Marcus' generous return policy lacking, saying the luxury retailer wouldn't let her return $1.4 million worth of tainted items - many of them gifts her husband purchased from a store employee with whom he was allegedly having an affair.
Patricia Walker is suing Neiman Marcus, claiming fraud against the retailer. The lawsuit alleges that many of the items were presented as gifts to Walker from her husband, bought with Walker's credit from her long-time personal shopper, who received a hefty commission from the sales.
But Walker's attorney insists the lawsuit isn't about spite.
"This is not about revenge," Mark Ticer, Walker's attorney, said Thursday. "This is about accountability and getting them to step up and do the right thing."
Neiman Marcus spokeswoman Ginger Reeder said corporate policy prevents her from commenting on litigation. The retailer's return policy, as posted on its website, says customers may return, for credit, any items with which they "are not completely satisfied."
In court documents, Neiman Marcus and employee Favi Lo denied the allegations and said Walker's deceptive trade practices claim is groundless.
Most of the items Walker's husband, Robert "Bobby" Tennison, 65, purchased were gifts for Walker, who was seriously injured in a car accident in 2007 that put her in the hospital for months and made her homebound until well into 2010, Ticer said.
"Adding insult to injury ... it's getting charged to her Neiman's account. The bill is getting paid with her money," Ticer said.
The gifts included jewelry, glass sculptures, furs, handbags and other items the lawsuit says he bought from Lo.
The lawsuit also alleges the store knew about the illicit arrangement but did nothing to stop it because Neiman Marcus "directly profited from Lo's conduct and deceit."
Tennison and Lo did not return calls to The Associated Press.
Ticer said Walker went from spending about $100,000 a year at Neiman's with help from her personal shopper in 2006 to nearly $850,000 in 2009. Walker didn't realize what was going on until Tennison filed for divorce in 2010.
"Had Walker known of this betrayal of trust and confidence," the suit contends she never would have purchased anything from Lo or Neiman Marcus and she would not have ever authorized Tennison or Lo to do so.
"Ms. Walker had no idea it was going on at all," Ticer said. "She was in the perfect spot to be vulnerable after the horrible accident."
The lawsuit claims that Lo and Tennison "conspired on these purchases to both enable Tennison to live a lavish lifestyle that he could not afford on his own" and allow Lo to receive large commissions.
Ticer said Walker is an extremely private person who had hoped to avoid a jury trial. The lawsuit was filed in Dallas County court in September 2010. A trial date has been set for November 2012.