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Law School Case Brief

Noguchi v. Nakamura - 2 Haw. App. 655, 638 P.2d 1383 (1982)


In a false imprisonment case, the standard for a directed verdict against plaintiff is the same as in any other civil case: a directed verdict may be granted only when after disregarding conflicting evidence, giving the plaintiff's evidence all the value to which it is legally entitled and indulging in every legitimate inference which may be drawn from the evidence in plaintiff's favor, it can be said that there is no evidence to support a jury verdict in his or her favor.


Plaintiff Michele Noguchi testified that she and defendant Alan Nakamura had been girl friend and boyfriend. She had come to the conclusion that she did not wish to go out with him anymore. On the day in question, he came to see her and asked her to go with him on a date that evening.  Michele initially refused, but after some conversation, Alan asked her to at least go to the store with him and she consented on the condition, to Alan agreed, that he would bring her right back. Michele then entered his car and they proceeded to the store and returned, stopping in front of her house. She was seated in the car with the car door open when he suddenly drove off. At some point thereafter, Michele fell, was pushed or jumped from the car, sustaining the injuries complained of. The trial court entered an order granting a directed verdict on a claim of false imprisonment. Michele appealed.


Was there sufficient evidence to go to the jury on the claim of false imprisonment?




The court reverses the ruling of the trial court. Alan argued that since Michele originally entered the car voluntarily, some threat against her to prevent her leaving must have been made or she was at least under an obligation when the car was stopped in front of her parents' home to express a refusal to go further.  The appellate court rejected such to be the law. She had refused to go anywhere on the day in question with the Alan but to the store and back. She was back, she was in front of her parents' house, and she had the car door open when Alan suddenly started off. A jury could well have found from her testimony that her consent to go anywhere with the Alan on the day in question was limited to going to the store and back; that she had previously expressly told him she would not go out with him that evening, so that the limited consent had expired; and that her having the door open in the stopped car in front of her parents' home reindicated her lack of consent to any further movement. There was sufficient evidence to go to the jury on the claim of false imprisonment.

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