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Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Castillo - 693 S.W.2d 374 (Tex. 1985)

Rule:

Under Tex. R. Civ. P. 277 (1984), it shall be discretionary with the court whether to submit separate questions with respect to each element of a case or to submit issues broadly.

Facts:

Concepcion Castillo visited the Sears store to pick up several items that she had previously placed in the lay-away department. The merchandise was properly purchased, and a receipt was given to Castillo. As Castillo was leaving the Sears store, a loud alarm bell sounded and her package was taken from her. Upon examination of the merchandise carried by Castillo, a security device was located and removed. Castillo then brought suit against Sears, Roebuck & Company for slander, negligence, and false imprisonment. The jury was instructed as to false imprisonment and as to the statutory privilege to make a reasonable detention in order to investigate a possible theft under Tex. Rev. Civ. Stat. Ann. Art. 1(d) (1984). The jury rendered judgment for Sears. The court of appeals reversed, holding that the privilege to detain had to be submitted to the jury as a special issue. Sears sought further appellate review.

Issue:

Was the court of appeals correct in holding that the privilege to detain had to be submitted to the jury as a special issue?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The Court held that under Tex. R. Civ. P. 277 (1984), it was discretionary with the trial court whether to submit separate questions with respect to each element of a case or to submit issues broadly. The Court found that the trial court submitted the false imprisonment claim broadly, with appropriate instructions. The Court granted the writ of error and reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in submitting the statutory privilege as an instruction.

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