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Criminal Restraint Case Law

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Janet Duran was shopping at Shoptown, a local grocery store. She thought she needed only a few items so she didn't get a grocery cart. As she shopped she realized she needed another item, and her hands being full, she put the extra item, nail polish, in her coat pocket. Later she realized she didn't need the polish and put it back. A store security person saw her put the polish in her pocket, but did not see her put it back. When she left the store, the guard stopped her and took her to the manager's office, stating she was being held for shoplifting. The store manager searched her purse and told her to empty her pockets. The security person and the manager were both extremely rude. After she emptied her pockets and the manager searched her purse, the store manager told her she could leave. Mrs. Duran was upset and embarrassed by the ordeal, and she wants to sue.

What is the likelihood of Mrs. Duran prevailing on a false imprisonment claim?

Statutory law: Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-3424 Criminal Restraint (1) Unlawful restraint is knowingly and without legal authority restraining another so as to interfere substantially with his liberty.

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(3) Any merchant, his agent or employee, who has probable cause to believe that a person has actual possession of and (a) has wrongfully taken, or (b) is about to wrongfully take merchandise from a mercantile establishment, may detain such person (a) on the premises or (b) in the immediate vicinity thereof, in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable period of time for the purpose of investigating the circumstances of such possession. Such reasonable detention shall not constitute an arrest nor an unlawful restraint.

Case law: Melia v. Dillon Companies, Inc., 18 Kan. App. 2d 5, 846 P.2d 257 (1993).

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In this situation there is a very low likelihood of Mrs. Duran prevailing on a false imprisonment claim. One of the primary reasons is that the guard and the manager were working in accordance with statutory law, due to the fact that the store security person had probable cause to believe that she was an actual possession of the fingernail polish, which he observed her stick into her pocket. Putting the fingernail polish in her pocket, would constitute the probability of wrongfully taking the merchandise, due to the fact that placing the finger nail polish in her pocket, would ...

Solution Summary

This solution provides a legal analysis of a criminal restraint case.