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Bramon v. U-Haul, Inc. - 945 S.W.2d 676 (Mo. Ct. App. 1997)

Rule:

In an action for malicious prosecution, plaintiff must plead and prove six elements:(1) the commencement of a prosecution against the plaintiff; (2) instigation by the defendant; (3) termination of the proceeding in favor of the plaintiff; (4) the want of probable cause for the prosecution; (5) the defendant's conduct was actuated by malice; and (6) that the plaintiff was damaged.

Facts:

On Sept. 8, 1995, plaintiff Michael Bramon leased a vehicle from defendant Jerry Hawkins d/b/a The Packaging Store ("Hawkins"); the vehicle was owned by defendant U-Haul, Inc. One day later, Bramon and plaintiff Kenneth Coolley and Lance Coolley were detained by local police officers and were taken into custody for the alleged theft of the vehicle. The police, in apprehending and detaining plaintiffs, were acting on information provided by defendants, in that they reported the vehicle stolen. Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against defendants in Missouri state court alleging claims of, among other things, false imprisonment, negligence, malicious prosecution and punitive damages; Bramon also asserted a fraudulent misrepresentation claim. The complaint alleged that defendants intentionally instigated the confinement of plaintiffs or alternatively that they negligently failed to use proper procedures for reporting vehicles as stolen. Bramon alleged that defendants fraudulently misrepresented that the vehicle leased to him was available for rental use and that he relied upon the misrepresentation. On defendants' motions, the trial court dismissed all of plaintiffs' claims. Plaintiffs appealed.

Issue:

Did the court properly dismiss plaintiffs' claims?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The appellate court affirmed in part and reversed and remanded in part. The court ruled that plaintiffs properly stated claims for false imprisonment, negligence, malicious prosecution, and that Bramon had a cognizable claim for fraudulent misrepresentation. However, because plaintiffs did not separately argue on appeal why their punitive damages claims were cognizable, the court upheld the lower court's dismissal of the punitive damages claims.

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