The meeting was awkward.
Malcolm Reuben, the buttoned-up vice president and general manager of Neiman Marcusâ NorthPark Center store, stood inside the multi-million dollar Addison home of one of his top customers, Patricia Walker. Beside him were two colleagues: a Neiman Marcus attorney and his storeâs loss-prevention manager.
Walker was joined by her own attorney and her personal assistant.
It was a summer day in 2010. Glancing around the sleek Max Levy-designed house, the only things more dazzling than the sculptural masonry columns or the steel-and-glass staircase were the piles of designer goods: handbags, shoes, furs, clothing, crystal sculptures, fine jewelry. It represented the bulk of $1.4 million in merchandise charged to her over a period of years.
âThere was a variety of merchandise laying all over the house,â Reuben testified in a March video deposition. âShe wanted to return all of the merchandise because of the affair.â
Oh, yes. The affair.
Walker had learned that Favi Lo, her longtime Neiman Marcus sales associate at NorthPark, was sleeping with her husband. And Walker saw that her charges had soared in recent years while she recovered from a horrific head-on collision. She came to believe that her husband was responsible for many of the purchases â" and had used them to pump up commissions for his mistress. In September 2010, Walker filed a lawsuit, asking for her money back and possible punitive damages. A trial is set for November 5.
In Walkerâs favor, there is Neimanâs famously generous return policy. For most items purchased from its posh stores, it states âYou may return for credit, at any time, merchandise with which you are not completely satisfied.â For online purchases, you have up to 60 days to receive a full refund.
But there are also factors working against Walker. She doesnât know when many of the items she wants to return were purchased, according to her own deposition testimony. (Her attorney has a chart of Neimanâs sales totals for Walker going as far back as 2004.) And Neimanâs says the affair didnât begin until late 2009 â" shortly before divorce proceedings started and Walker cut off her husbandâs charging ability.
Further, Walker has no evidence that Neiman Marcus knew of the affair while it was going on, the defense team stresses in court filings. Neimanâs lawyers dismiss her claims in the documents as ânothing more than the ventings of a woman scorned by the infidelity of her former husband that have spilled over from her highly contentious divorce.â
How will Neimanâs address the return-policy question? It is unclear at this point.
Meanwhile, the associate, Favi Lo, is still working on the sales floor. Neimanâs representatives have testified in deposition that what happens outside of its building is her business. Walkerâs attorney, Mark Ticer, has a different take and says Loâs actions amount to fraud, or as he describes in less genteel terms: âSex for merchandise.â
The case became public in May, when Walkerâs legal team pitched the tale to WFAA-TV, Channel 8. A story there led to countless other headlines, everywhere fromÂ The Huffington PostÂ and LondonâsÂ Daily MailÂ to ABC News and a gossipy segment onÂ Inside Edition. The surface details have been sensationalized and rehashed endlessly, but few know just how strange and complex the case and its players really are. The caseâs extensive court filings and the depositions supplied by Walkerâs team tell a vivid story. But much remains mysterious. For example, it isnât clear who, if anyone, authorized many charges. For more than $1 million in goods, Walkerâs lawyer says, receipts are missing, unsigned or illegible. Furthermore, certain records in the case are sealed, sometimes by request of Walkerâs team. All of the records for the divorce itself are sealed. Both Lo and Walker declined requests for interviews. Neiman Marcus spokesperson Ginger Reeder said the company canât comment because the case is in active litigation.
Walker remains at the center of it all. Despite the scrutiny from the lawsuit going public and the ongoing physical pain that Walkerâs attorney says she still endures from her accident, you see glimmers of her trademark razor wit. There it is in the video of her pretrial deposition in February. She sits in a high-back chair, with neatly coifed hair, looking prim and defiant in a leather jacket and camel-hued cashmere sweater with a leopard-print scarf knotted around her neck.
âAnd I assume youâve never been convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude?â asks a Neiman Marcus attorney, somewhere off-screen.
âNo,â replies Walker, pursing her immaculately painted lips. âI think Iâd remember that.â
Of course, there is so much Walker would surely love to forget â" starting with the day she met Robert âBobâ Tennison. She was introduced to him by a Dallas investment banker and mutual acquaintance. Tennison was a thrice-divorced, retired executive in his late fifties. The two dated and it soon became serious. Walker, already a Neimanâs customer, testified that she remembered talking with her regular sales person at NorthPark, Favi Lo, about Tennison when they first got engaged and that Lo helped her pick out an evening gown for one of their dates. The couple married in 2005, less than a year after meeting, and moved into that gleaming white Max Levy house, which had previously been featured in aÂ PaperCityÂ magazine design spread.
Life was good. Walker added Tennison to her Neiman Marcus charge account and introduced him to Lo. As a newly married couple, Walker and Tennison were spending about $100,000 a year with Neimanâs, according to records compiled by Walkerâs attorney. The two divided their time between Dallas and a second home on Floridaâs Amelia Island.
Then in April 2007, everything changed. Flashes from that terrible day were still etched in Walkerâs memory as she recounted it in her deposition. It was the Monday after Easter weekend on Amelia Island, where Walker was staying. She was on the road with her eldest son from a previous marriage, his wife and their three small children. Walker testified that she let her son drive her top-of-the-line Toyota Sequoia because he was thinking about buying one.
There was no time to respond when, according to news reports, a 17-year-old boy crossed the center line in his Dodge Neon and struck them at 60 miles per hour. The collision ignited a grassfire that quickly enveloped both vehicles. The young man burned to death. Walker and most of her family were trapped inside the Sequoia, its crumpled doors jammed shut. Bystanders broke out the windows to un-strap the children from their car seats and drag them to safety. Paramedics arrived and extracted Walkerâs son and daughter-in-law, and then they cut Walkerâs seatbelt straps to drag her, unconscious, from the burning heap.
Astonishingly, the family survived.
Of course, survival was a relative term for Walker, who was among the worst hurt. She testified that she had a head injury. Her back, collarbone and legs were broken. Her ankles were crushed in multiple places. Her chest was caved in and all the ribs on her right side were smashed. She was confined to a Florida hospital in a full body cast for four months. Her diaphragm was torn and she had a hernia that ultimately required three surgeries to repair. The final surgery in 2009 resulted in a staph infection, forcing doctors to reopen the wound and leave it exposed for five weeks. They used a vacuum dressing to siphon out the poisonous bacteria.
But Walker had a major ally to ease the slow, excruciating recovery: money.
The Arkansas-raised belle with the high cheekbones and charming Southern drawl would be too gracious to ever say it, but she is â" pardon the term â" loaded. When pressed in her deposition, she gave demure answers about living on her investments, trusts and family businesses. When Neimanâs attorney asked directly about the source of her funding, she offered a hesitant, almost humorous reply: âMy father was the first Wal-Mart store manager.â
More specifically, her father was Willard J. Walker, the first manager of Sam Waltonâs original Five and Dime. Walker collected vast shares in what would become one of the worldâs largest corporations. Today, youâll even find Walkerâs name (along with his wife Pat) on the wall of Alice Waltonâs new multi-million-dollar Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.
But Patricia Walker isnât the type to brag. Her friend and Allie Beth Allman & Associates real-estate agent, Terri Patrick Cox, says Walker once told her: ââThere is no ego in this for me. Iâm just a very blessed and fortunate childâ.â Cox explains over the phone about Walker and her money: âSheâs not impressed by it. She didnât create it. Sheâs certainly been a good steward of all thatâs been given to her.â
Walker briefly worked as a schoolteacher years ago, but gave it up when she began having children. She was twice-divorced by the time she met Tennison. For his part, Tennison was once an executive for the medical-supply giant, Hill-Rom. His personal life was less successful. He admitted in deposition that at least one of his three previous failed marriages also involved infidelity on his part.
After the 2007 accident, Walker was housebound for a long period of time. She testified that she relied on Tennison to handle even the coupleâs routine bills and expenses after that â" including the monthly Neimanâs statements. (By Walkerâs own admission, she was not very engaged with her finances or accounting team before then.) She testified that he was an active shopper who became the person primarily dealing with Lo at the store. Records produced by Walkerâs attorney show that their spending with Neiman Marcus suddenly tripled the year of the accident to $363,001. In 2008, spending shot up to $449,040.
Walkerâs tedious recovery apparently made nesting a focus. In addition to the Dallas house, they picked up a second Florida home â" a $5 million waterfront mansion that Walker testified her husband pushed for. The following year they bought a $4 million mountaintop compound in Santa Fe. Information in court filings suggests they likely traveled to them by private jet. The couple decorated their homes and Walker testified that she carefully made sure holiday and birthday gifts for their grown children and numerous grandchildren were shipped out from the stores on time. By the end of 2009, the coupleâs spending with Neiman Marcus hit a high of $784,600.
Favi Lo became an increasingly frequent presence in their lives. Tennison engaged with her on his regular trips to Neimanâs to socialize and shop. And Walker stated in a July sworn affidavit that Lo was in the coupleâs home presenting merchandise (often in Walkerâs bedroom, where Walker says she would prop up in a chair wearing a housecoat or pajamas) as often as twice a month. Walker stated that she was âself-consciousâ during this time in her recovery, but trusted Lo. It would seem the feeling was at least somewhat mutual. Walker stated in her affidavit that in late 2008 or early 2009, âFavi asked Sandi [Walkerâs personal assistant] and I to watch her at her belly dancing class.â
Favi Loâs most distinctive feature is her black, glossy hair. In her videotaped deposition last October, she wore a structured, dark suit jacket â" armor-like, uncontroversial.
Lo has a bachelor-of-science degree and is twice divorced. She has been a full-time sales associate in the Dress Collections department at Neiman Marcus NorthPark Center for 15 years. But she moves around the store as needed to sell to her customers and is required to split commissions in some of those other departments.
She often brought Patricia Walker â" and then after the accident, Walkerâs husband â" to a colleague in Precious Jewelry, Gilbert Mireles. Mireles testified that he split the commissions with Lo, whom he described as ârunning through the store constantlyâ and âa wonderful sales person.â Mireles also confirmed that Walkerâs husband was a frequent Neimanâs shopper. âMr. Tennison knew the store as well as all of us. I mean, and â" and he knew people all over the store, and he would come in and he would just socialize and talk to people.â
Especially Ms. Lo.
Based on Walkerâs testimony, there were warning signs. When Tennison and Walker were staying at their homes in Florida or Santa Fe, Walker testified that her husband was getting phone calls and having to leave the room, or announcing that he needed to fly back to Dallas to check the mail or handle business, even though he wasnât working.
And then there were the more overt incidents. The couple was in Florida when Cowboys Stadium debuted in 2009. Walker owned a private suite and received 16 tickets to the George Strait opening concert, but was hardly interested: âIâd rather have a sharp stick in my eye than go listen to country music,â she said in deposition. But Tennison wanted to attend. Walker told him to go ahead and said he began agonizing over who to take. âHe had 16 seats, but he didnât have 16 friends,â testified Walker, âso it was my friends who ended up going. It was all my friends, except Favi Lo.â Lo met Tennison at his Dallas home that night to ride to the stadium together. The coupleâs friend, Terri Cox, also arrived to ride with Tennison and was surprised to see Lo, whom she had never met. Cox recalls the incident and explains in a phone interview how Lo casually chatted with Tennison and played with his camera â" odd, she says, because Tennison was extremely particular about his possessions. Cox says the whole evening felt strange and awkward. âWhat made it unusual was that their interaction was too familiar,â she says. âAnd weâre all adults and we recognize what that is.â
Five months after the concert, Walker testified that Lo called in a favor with Tennison and asked if Neiman Marcus could host a trunk show of Daum crystal at their Lake Forest Drive house. The president and CEO of Daum and Neimanâs NorthPark general manager Malcolm Reuben would both attend. Walker testified that she was really not feeling up to it, but that Tennison said they should do it for Lo, so she agreed. Neimanâs tricked out the coupleâs home with Daum, taking full advantage of all the natural light and floor-to-ceiling windows. The retailer provided drinks and brought in Neiman Marcus NorthPark executive chef Jeremy Neilson to prepare the bites. (Walker testified she later hired Neilson as her full-time private chef after he left his resume in her mailbox following the party.) A couple of dozen people attended, including neighbors and friends of Walkerâs such as Cox, and about eight people from Neiman Marcus, including Lo. Unbeknownst to Walker, Lo told chef Neilson that it was Tennisonâs birthday and they needed a cake to celebrate. Cox recalls the party and says, âFavi was just a little over-involved.â The chef procured a cake and got it set up. Walker testified that Lo made a big scene of presenting Tennison with the surprise, completely catching her off-guard and leaving her humiliated because she had not been the one to make the gesture for her husband. âShe carried the cake over in front of the entire crowd and he blew out the candles.â
Lo and Tennison claimed that the first time they had sex was a month later, November 2009, at Loâs home in Garland. Tennison testified that Lo complained to him at Neiman Marcus about a problem with her home computer. He offered to look at it and drove to her house. Things, you could say, just happened.
Walkerâs attorney painted a different picture. He obtained phone records that he said showed Tennison and Lo had been exchanging frequent calls at odd hours prior to this encounter. The attorney claimed the two also texted and emailed each other, although he could not verify the content of any of their communications.
Meanwhile, LoÂ was just breaking six figures in her income, according to depositions, and testified that she was among the storeâs top-producing associates. (Reuben estimated in his deposition that Lo was in the top 15.) And as things between her and Walkerâs husband allegedly heated up, so did the numbers.
And therein lies one of the key issues in the case:
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âLet me ask you a question here, a little commonsense question, I hope. Do you think that Ms. Walker would have ever done any business with you had she known that you were sleeping with her husband?â
FAVI LO: âI â" I canât speak for her.â
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âDo you have an opinion as to whether Ms. Walker would have continued to do business with you if she had known you were sleeping with her husband?â
LO: âI donât have an opinion either way.â
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âYou donât have an opinion?â
LO: âEither way.â
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âOkay. If you were Ms. Walker and you were a good customer of Neimanâs and you learned that the longtime salesperson that you were dealing with was sleeping with your husband, do you â" would you have continued to do business with that associate and the store â¦ or you donât have an opinion on that?â
LO: âIt happened and Iâm sorry I hurt her.â
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âBut thatâs not the question I asked. I appreciate the apology.â
LO: âI mean, I â" I donât know what â" what â" you know, I canât decide what she thinks or what I think â¦â
Despite signs of trouble, Walker testified she was stunned when Tennison suddenly filed for divorce in March 2010, after five years of marriage. And the legal reason for it was another surprise: cruelty. Tennison claimed in his deposition that Walker was dismissive and treated him âmore like an employee than a husband.â He said she was ânonresponsiveâ to him as a wife.
Walker disputed this. âWe never had a cross word,â she testified. âWe never argued. He never acted like there was anything wrong.â
Walker â" who hadnât yet learned of the affair â" and her assistant went to Neimanâs NorthPark shortly after Tennisonâs announcement, to meet privately with Lo and Gilbert Mireles, the jewelry associate who often sold to Walker through Lo. The four of them gathered in a small viewing room off the fine-jewelry department. Walker explained that Tennison was no longer allowed to charge on her account. She wanted it closed and would reopen it in her name only. She said Tennison âwas not going to be accorded the privilege of using any more of my money.â Mireles was very apologetic, but Walker vividly recalled Loâs reaction: âFavi looked like somebody had hit her in the face. And now we know why.â
The affair was finally exposed through Tennisonâs deposition in the coupleâs divorce proceedings. His extramarital relationship meant that Lo was summoned to testify also and Neiman Marcus, though not a party, was required to produce certain records. Details beyond that are scarce. All parties involved in the divorce agreed to a motion to seal the records.
Once Walker understood what had been going on between her husband and Lo, she went back and noticed the sharp pattern of escalation in their Neimanâs purchases. She was especially angry because her wealth was paying the bills. Walker testified that she had never pried into Tennisonâs personal finances. She had set up a joint account with her husband early on where earnings from both of their investments were automatically swept in to cover expenses. According to Walker, her money moved over, but Tennisonâs didnât. She testified that, in total, her accountants showed Tennison may have only spent about $51,000 of his own money during the marriage.
Exactly who was initiating most of the Neimanâs purchases is difficult to prove and will be a hot issue as the case moves forward. Walker testified that her husband often gave her expensive gifts. âHe bought things for me and brought them home with great flourish,â she said. ââOh, hereâs a handbagââ â" a $4,000 handbag that he saw and thought she might like. Some other purchased items included a cashmere cape, Chanel and Harry Winston watches, Valentino sandals, Prada and Gucci handbags, even multiple Daum crystal statuettes. Based upon Walkerâs characterization, Tennison lavished luxury goods on her as casually as a mother gives a cookie to a child with a skinned knee.
The rub? Walker, who was never a socialite, said she didnât even have use for these things. She testified that âthere is no need for handbags and designer clothes and jewelry when youâre layingÂ [sic]Â in a bed.â
Over the telephone, Terri Cox characterizes those days as ridiculous. âPatriciaâs buying power is not limited. So, if she wanted something, she could buy it. But Patricia is not an over-doer.â Or, as Cox says later: âShe doesnât need to buy 95 bracelets. Thatâs not her gig.â
Walker said she sent some things back, but testified that she kept many of the gifts because, âI didnât want to hurt his feelings.â In her deposition, she offered a hypothesis about the spending: âI think he shopped because he was bored. And I think he shopped ultimately to funnel income and commission to his girlfriend.â
For his part, Tennison suggested in testimony that the merchandise he bought for Walker was either a sincere gift or at Walkerâs request â" that he, along with her personal assistant, Sandi Bohot, were essentially intermediaries in procuring merchandise for Walker.
Either way, the common denominator in both scenarios was Favi Lo. The sales associate soon found herself face-to-face with Neimanâs management over her actions; the outcome would only upset Walker even more.
Neimanâs NorthPark general manager Malcolm Reuben first learned of the affair when Walkerâs personal assistant called to alert him. Reuben testified that he was âshockedâ and âsurprised.â In video of his March deposition, Reuben appeared with a neatly trimmed mustache and was dressed in a good suit, crisp shirt and striped tie. He explained to Walkerâs attorney his stance on the whole Favi Lo situation: âIâm there to run the store. Anything that happens outside is not my responsibility or my business.â
Of course, it became his business. He testified that he held a meeting with Lo in the presence of a human-resources manager to tell Lo about the phone call and to notify her that he was turning it over to HR and to corporate management. The person responsible for the investigation was Neiman Marcus Group director of associate relations, Gabrelle Martin. She determined that Loâs behavior didnât technically violate any of the companyâs policies.
Walkerâs attorney, Mark Ticer, pressed Martin on this in Martinâs deposition last November, citing various clauses in Neiman MarcusâÂ Code of Ethics and ConductÂ manual. In particular, Ticer cited a declaration that employees shall not âwillfully conceal material facts from anyone with whom the Company does business or seeks to do business.â He asked if Neimanâs wouldnât get involved even if the associateâs actions outside the store caused the retailer to lose a million-dollar customer. Martin replied: âIf it happens outside of the workplace and itâs not illegal, Iâm not going to get involved in it.â
She confirmed that Lo had not received any written warnings or disciplinary actions for the affair with her married customer.
Walkerâs legal team is arguing this is highly inappropriate. In fact, they called in former high-profile Neiman Marcus sales associate James T. Farr, who went on to serve 14 years as an executive with Dallas luxury retailer Stanley Korshak, to be an expert witness for Walkerâs team. âBecause personal shoppers take merchandise out of the stores and mostly deal with the well-to-do in the community in their homes and offices,â Farr states in his affidavit, âthey are held to the highest standards of integrity and expected to follow the rules of the storeâs [Neimanâs] Code of Ethics and Conduct Code to the absolute degree, both inside and outside the store. Personal shoppers are usually expected to perform with a zero tolerance for misconduct. This practice, of course, is designed to keep and retain customers like Walker.â He noted that when he joined Neimanâs in 1980, the code-of-conduct manual was entitledÂ Youâre What Weâre Famous For.
After learning about the affair, Walker testified that at each of her homes she gathered up âevery single thing that I could see that I knew had been purchased from Neiman Marcus,â including from the companyâs website and Horchow, the upscale furnishings and dÃ©cor company owned by Neimanâs. Walker and her attorney met with Reuben, the Neiman Marcus attorney and the loss-prevention manager at her home â" the aforementioned meeting â" to see the goods and discuss a return. (Presently, the merchandise, photographed for this story, is held in a storage unit and the jewelry is in a safe.) Reuben testified that the goods were examined, but nothing was decided. Later, per testimony, Neimanâs offered Walker a proposal â" âwithout waver of its legal positionâ â" because Neiman Marcus âvalues the important customer relationshipâ it has with Walker. The store would examine and take back items purchased beginning January 1, 2010 and thereafter that were in saleable condition for a âpresent value refund.â (A chart of sales totals created by Walkerâs attorney shows $197,281 in purchases during January and February of 2010, before activity abruptly stopped.) Later court filings indicate they may have extended that offer back to November 2009, presumably based on Loâs testimony of when the affair began. Walker declined.
Steven Dennis, president of Dallas-based retail consulting firm SageBerry Consulting, is not associated with the case, but offers perspective. Dennis has a unique insight into the culture at Neiman Marcus. He served as Senior Vice President of Strategy, Business Development and Marketing for Neiman Marcus Group from 2004 to 2008. âAs a customer-service-oriented company, you want to do things on behalf of the customer,â he says, âbut economic pressure on a lot of retailers is causing them to try and find ways to limit their exposure to the cost of returns.â
The recession certainly took a toll on Neimanâs financial results. It posted a net loss of $668 million in 2009 as sales fell 21 percent to $3.64 billion from $4.60 billion the prior year. Since then, profits have returned, but sales still havenât reached prior peaks. In its fiscal year that ended in July, sales hit $4.35 billion.
âAs a practical matter,â Dennis says, âretailers are pretty mindful of which customer relationships are most important. So, if youâve got a longstanding, very valuable customer, youâre going to always give them the benefit of the doubt. I think there are other customer relationships where you scrutinize things a bit a more. When in doubt, you always side with the customer.â
In Patricia Walkerâs case, it appears Neimanâs attempted to set the parameters for a possible return when Lo admitted the affair began, even though Walkerâs team argued it started much earlier. Walkerâs attorney pushed the issue with Reuben in deposition:
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âSo, if the affair started in 2008, do you believe Neimanâs should take things back as far back as 2008?â
MALCOLM REUBEN: âI donât know why we would do that, sir. No.â
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âDid Neiman Marcus have a philosophy or a policy to take back merchandise for virtually any reason?â
REUBEN: âAs a general rule we have a â" we are gracious in taking returns back. Yes, sir.â
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âSo Neiman Marcus has a policy of taking merchandise back for virtually any reason whatsoever?â
REUBEN: âAs a general rule, yes, sir.â
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âAnd so I want to make sure I understand this. If a woman bought a pair of Blahnik shoes from your shoe department and paid a thousand dollars for them, wore them for three or four months and just didnât like them and brought them back, is it the policy of Neimanâs to take those shoes back?â
REUBEN: âAs a rule, we would take them back, yes sir.â
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âAnd as a rule, why didnât you take the merchandise back that Ms. Walker was asking you to take back?â
REUBEN: âI believe it was related to the circumstances that had occurred.â
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âWell, what were the circumstances that had occurred that â" why all of the merchandise wasnât returned or taken back if you have a general policy of accepting returns?â
REUBEN: âThe merchandise was sold in good faith to the customer. It is our understanding, my understanding, that this incident took place in the beginning of 2010. [Court filings suggest Neimanâs later accepted November 2009 as the start of the affair based on Loâs deposition.] We were willing â" we offered to take the merchandise back that she had, but merchandise for previous years that she had claimed she had purchased, the determination by the organization was that that was not something we were prepared to take back.â
Later in Ruebenâs deposition, which Walker attended, her lawyer asked the store manager if he ever had the chance to talk with Walker one-on-one about what happened. Reuben said no.
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âSo you havenât been able to express the â" say anything on behalf of the store to Ms. Walker?â
REUBEN: âI have not talked to Ms. Walker, no sir.â
WALKERâS ATTORNEY: âWell, hereâs your opportunity. Would you [like] to say anything to Ms. Walker right now on behalf of the NorthPark store?â
REUBEN: âNo, sir.â
There is silence on the videotape as Reuben reaches down to take a drink of water.
Patricia Walker doesnât need the money, so whatâs the point of her lawsuit? Her attorney, Mark Ticer, sat across a conference table at his offices beside Central Expressway and explained. âShe wants her day in court. She wants to let a Dallas County jury decide whatâs appropriate under the circumstances.â He said itâs a misconception that people who have money arenât concerned with money. âI donât care whether youâre a zillionaire, a millionaire, or middle class, if somebody cheats you â" and itâs a million-four â" you want your money back.â
He described the case more pointedly later in the conversation: âStanley Marcus would turn over in his grave if he knew they were operating this way.â
Neimanâs lawyers have preferred to speak through their court filings: âEach of Plaintiffâs causes of action is without merit. Simply put, she purchased goods and has retained those goods and has no evidence that any such goods are defective or deficient.â
Public opinion on the case is also divided. Susan Woodruff, a longtime independent personal shopper for some of Dallasâ well-heeled crowd, has worked for Neiman Marcus three times in her career since the 1980s, including the NorthPark store as recently as last year. In fact, she was recruited by Malcolm Reuben once from Stanley Korshak in the mid-nineties. âI trust Malcolm totally and heâs very fair. I think thereâs probably some issue that we donât know in this case â" the way it was done, with everything put in a vault and held for a long time. A return of that size would hurt any store. Iâve spent most of my life working for Neimanâs and I know theyâre always fair and more than generous to their customers.â
Walker is seemingly trying to move on with her personal life. She recently purchased a new residence in Highland Park. According to testimony, she is also spending more time with her accountants: âAs a result of this little fiasco, we meet and talk a lot. I donât let things slide anymore.â
Favi Lo and Robert Tennison were still seeing each other, as of their depositions. In fact, Lo said on video that she spent the night with Tennison at his Dallas condominium the night before she testified. That may be harder to do in the future: Tennison testified that he is considering moving to Florida. Walkerâs attorney asked Lo in deposition if the two had any plans to marry. Loâs reply: âWeâre taking it one day at a time.â
As for Neiman Marcusâ role in this human drama, a jury will decide who pays the price for their employeeâs affair. The trial is scheduled for November 5 â" unless there is a settlement. Ultimately, there may be too much pride and money at stake on both sides of the table to make that an easy sale.
Brooks Egerton contributed reporting to this story