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Law School Case Brief

Everett v. Fla. Inst. of Tech. - 503 So. 2d 1382 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1987)

Rule:

The tort of false imprisonment does not require proof that a legal proceeding was commenced without probable cause and with malice. All that is required are allegations that a person has been unlawfully restrained without color of authority.

Facts:

Plaintiff Christian Everett filed an action in Florida state court against defendants Florida Institute of Technology ("FIT") and Brevard Mental Health Centers and Hospital, Inc. ("Hospital") for malicious prosecution and false imprisonment. Everett claimed that he was involuntary confined as a mental patient for eight days without compliance with sections 394.463 or 394.467, Florida Statutes (1985). These sections of the Baker Act limited the time a person could be held for an involuntary mental examination to 72 hours, unless there was notice and/or hearing together with the recommendation of the administrator of the examining facility. The circuit court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a cause of action. Everett appealed.

Issue:

Did the trial court properly dismiss Everett's complaint for failure to state a cause of action?

Answer:

Yes, but only as to the malicious prosecution claim.

Conclusion:

On appeal, the court affirmed the dismissal of the malicious prosecution claim as to both FIT and the Hospital. The court ruled that complaint failed to state a cause of action for malicious prosecution because there was no allegation that any criminal or civil court proceedings were instituted against Everett. The court reversed as to the false imprisonment claim because that tort did not require proof that a legal proceeding was commenced without probable cause and with malice. Everett was required to allege only that he had been unlawfully restrained without color of authority, which he did as to the Hospital. Moreover, the court found that while Everett's allegations that the Hospital was responsible for the actions of its employees who acted within the course of their employment were minimal, they were sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss under Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.110(b)(2). The case was remanded.

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