Hardy v. La Belle’s Distrib. Co.

203 Mont. 263, 661 P.2d 35 (1983)



The two key elements of false imprisonment are the restraint of an individual against his will and the unlawfulness of such restraint. The individual may be restrained by acts or merely by words, which he fears to disregard.


Plaintiff was a temporary employee of defendant. After another employee reported seeing plaintiff taking a watch, plaintiff was taken to an office where she took a lie detector test, the results of which supported plaintiff's statement that she did not take the watch. In upholding the jury's verdict for defendant, the court reasoned that one of the elements of false imprisonment is restraint against one's will, and plaintiff testified that she wanted to stay to clarify the allegation, so there was sufficient evidence for the jury finding. The court found no error in the jury instructions.


Was the evidence sufficient to support the verdict and judgment?




There is ample evidence to support the jury's finding that Hardy was not unlawfully restrained against her will. While Hardy stated that she felt compelled to remain in the showroom manager's office, she also admitted that she wanted to stay and clarify the situation. She did not ask to leave. She was not told she could not leave. No threat of force or otherwise was made to compel her to stay. Although she followed the assistant manager into the office under pretense of a tour, she testified at trial that she would have followed him voluntarily if she had known the true purpose of the meeting and that two policemen were in the room. Under these circumstances, the jury could easily find that Hardy was not detained against her will. 

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