Johnson v. Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Inc.

437 F.3d 1112 (11th Cir. 2006)

 

RULE:

In Florida, the tort of false imprisonment is defined as the unlawful restraint of a person against his will, the gist of which action is the unlawful detention of the plaintiff and the deprivation of his liberty. In a false imprisonment action the plaintiff is required only to establish imprisonment contrary to his will and the unlawfulness of the detention. Once a plaintiff has established his detention by one who has no authority to detain him, the defendant may challenge the claim of an unlawful detention by asserting the lawfulness of the detention as an affirmative defense.

FACTS:

Petitioner Johnson was accused by a Barnes & Noble store clerk of inappropriately grabbing her buttocks. The store managers and a security guard a escorted Johnson to an office where he was detained for one to two hours. When the police arrived, they questioned Johnson but he was eventually allowed to leave and was not arrested. Johnson filed a suit against Barnes & Noble, claiming false imprisonment. Jury ruled in his favor. Barnes & Noble filed a motion for new trial, but the district court upheld the jury's verdict and denied the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s ruling.

ISSUE:

Did defendant intentionally cause the plaintiff to be restrained against his will?

ANSWER:

Yes.

CONCLUSION:

Once a plaintiff has established his detention by one who has no authority to detain him, the defendant may challenge the claim of an unlawful detention by asserting the lawfulness of the detention as an affirmative defense. Johnson was detained by Barnes & Noble employees who had been told, but did not actually witness the alleged misdemeanor. 

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