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LOWELL, Mass. -- Former Groton convenience store clerk Cheryl Carter got mad when a Leominster-based company unjustly charged her with stealing $6,000 from the store. After she was cleared in court, she decided to get even, according to the Lowell Sun.
A Lowell Superior Court jury in April awarded Carter $300,000 in damages, plus $72,000 in interest, after the jury found Leominster, Mass.-based Peterborough Oil Co. Inc. -- owner of the Mr. Mike's convenience store in Groton -- participated in "malicious prosecution" against Carter.
In July, Lowell Superior Court Judge Jane Haggerty denied requests by Peterborough Oil to overrule the jury's verdict and reduce the money damages.
"It's a landmark case," said Scott Lathrop, Carter's attorney.
Scott Hoban, the trial attorney for Peterborough, declined comment.
During a three-day trial in March 2000, Carter was found not guilty in Ayer District Court of larceny over $250. She sued Peterborough and Diane Clark, one of her bosses, in Superior Court seeking $20,000 in attorney's fees and $5,000 in medical expenses. She said her diverticulitis flared up due to stress and she had to have part of her colon removed.
The civil jury cleared Clark, but the jury found Peterborough -- with 26 gas station/convenience stores throughout Massachusetts -- "had taken an active part in continuing or procuring the continuation of criminal proceedings" against Carter.
Peterborough's attorneys have appealed to a higher court. They said there was no malice and that the Ayer District Court clerk-magistrate -- not Peterborough -- charged Carter after a probable-cause hearing.
It could take a year or longer for the case to move through the appeal process.