Thank You For Submiting Feedback!
Threats of arrest and imprisonment improperly made to induce a confession may invalidate the confession but have no bearing on the issue of false imprisonment where the person is not detained by force or threats of force.
Kenneth Amburn was formerly employed as a clerk in the Safeway Store at Jacksboro. Amburn was questioned by an employee of Hopper & Hawkins, Inc., an independent organization which performed certain contract services for Safeway Stores, concerning irregularities in the handling of funds, and signed a statement admitting that he had taken money. He also executed a promissory note and transferred the title to his automobile to Safeway Stores in repayment of the money he had admitted taking. Amburn then was discharged and brought the present suit for damages, alleging that he had been falsely imprisoned, that he not taken any money, and that he had signed the statement admitting such taking, the promissory note and the transfer of car title while under duress. The trial court entered judgment on the verdict in favor of Amburn and against Safeway and Hopper & Hawkins, Inc., for actual damages of $20,000.00 and exemplary damages of $27,000.00. Safeway contended that there was no evidence, or at most only a scintilla of evidence, that Amburn had been falsely imprisoned by anyone.
Under the circumstances, could it be said that Amburn was falsely imprisoned, thereby entitling him to actual and exemplary damages for false imprisonment?
The court reversed the trial court’s order, which entered a verdict in favor of Amburn for actual and exemplary damages for false imprisonment. The court concluded that the record disclosed no direct evidence to support the submission of any issues on false imprisonment or the jury's findings thereon as to Safeway. The court found that an interview with Amburn had a direct bearing upon his duties as an employee. He was compensated during the time that he was in the area. Under the circumstances, it could not be said that his requested presence for purposes of interrogation constituted false imprisonment unless he was unlawfully detained. However, the court upheld the jury's finding that the promissory note and confession were signed under duress.