Where it is alleged that a detention is effected by a threat, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the threat was such as would inspire in the threatened person a just fear of injury to his person, reputation, or property. Threats to call the police are not ordinarily sufficient in themselves to effect an unlawful imprisonment. In determining whether such threats are sufficient to overcome the plaintiff's free will, factors such as the relative size, age, experience, sex, and physical demeanor of the participants may be considered.
Following an intervention staged by appellees and appellant's family, appellant was admitted to appellee hospital for treatment for alcoholism. When appellant later brought suit alleging he was falsely imprisoned, the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of appellees, the hospital and a counselor. Appellant sought review. The court concluded that the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of appellee hospital because appellant was not restrained and was free to leave the hospital at any time. The court therefore affirmed the judgment.
Did the trial court err in granting summary judgment in favor of appellees because no issues of material fact existed regarding appellant's false imprisonment?
As a preliminary matter, the court denied appellant's request that it consider additional evidence filed after the grant of summary judgment and held that it would confine its review to the summary judgment pleadings and the evidence attached that were filed before summary judgment was rendered. The court affirmed the grant of summary judgment because it found that appellant failed to establish the elements of false imprisonment in his pleadings. The court held appellant was not restrained because he had been free to leave the hospital at any time during his admission and, in fact, had left the hospital on pass several times and returned voluntarily. The court therefore held that appellant could not succeed on his claim of false imprisonment and the grant of summary judgment was appropriate.