Research & Writing Memo

Student ID # 105228 5/30/2009 We can probably show that Brett arrested Jane. Arrest is an element of false imprisonment. Arrest means confinement against one’s will. An arrest can be affected through physical constraint as well as through personal coercion (its equivalent). When a store employee detains something of value that a reasonable patron would not leave without, the patron has been coerced and thus arrested. In this case, because Brett took Jane’s dog (something no reasonable person would leave behind), Jane was likely arrested. The elements of false imprisonment are intent to confine, arrest, and consciousness of confinement.
In Moore v. City of Detroit, 252 Mich. App. 384, 652 N. W. 2d 688 (2002), the court held that an action for false imprisonment can be maintained without alleging a false arrest involving government law enforcement. The court reasoned that the employee was not actually confined or restrained for any significant period of time which is required in satisfying a false imprisonment claim. The court stated that even if the employee had been locked in some enclosure, the confinements were momentary and fleeting or too brief and therefore insufficient to satisfy false imprisonment.
An arrest must be against the will of the person confined; a patron who voluntarily follows a store employee back into the store is not arrested. In Bruce v. Meijers Supermarkets INC. , 34 Mich. App. 352, 191 N. W. 2d 132 (1971), a customer was shopping at Meijer’s in Lansing Michigan. Customer places two pairs of panties in her cart and continues shopping. Customer then places both pairs of panties on a counter other than where she found them. Customer checked out with the cashier. Customer leaves the store. Unidentified man approaches the customer.

Unidentified man asks customer where she put the unpaid for panties which the man had seen in her cart while in the store. Customer assumed that the unidentified man was an employee of the store. Unidentified man repeatedly asked customer to return to the store. Customer was feeling ill. Customer wanted to leave. Customer said her children would be coming home for lunch. Customer voluntarily opened her purse and her clothing to prove that she did not take the panties. Customer estimates that she had been questioned for approximately five minutes. Customer voluntarily follows the man back inside the store.
Customer quickly finds the panties lying on the counter adjacent to the lingerie display. Customer leaves store without further ado. The court held that no arrest was made and false imprisonment cannot have occurred without an arrest. The court reasoned that nothing was being done to indicate that she was being taken into custody, or that she was being held for delivery to a peace officer to answer a criminal charge. Given what the unidentified man observed (customer placing the panties in her cart), entitled the unidentified man; acting as an agent of the owner, the right to question the customer.
The customers’ voluntariness in following the man back into the store illustrates that her actions were carried out willingly & knowingly and shows no signs of manual seizure or coercion. Therefore the customer was not arrested. Like the customer in Bruce, Jane voluntarily followed the store clerk back into the store. However in our case, Jane had been purposely and knowingly coerced into her decision whereas the actions by the customer in Bruce were done willingly. For an arrest, there must be a manual seizure or its equivalent in some sort of personal coercion.
Coercion means acting against the will of the customer. If there is no coercion, there is no arrest. The store clerk seized Jane’s dog (something of value), leaving Jane no choice but to follow. Unlike the case in Bruce, Jane’s actions were against her will and were therefore coerced. When a store employee detains something of value to a patron and the item detained is something a reasonable person would not leave without, the patron has been detained. In Clarke v. K Mart Corporation, 197 Mich. App. 541, 495 N. W. d 820 (1992), a customer and her two small children were shopping at K Mart in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Customer purchased a set of bed sheets among other things. The cashier accidentally rang up the sheets twice. Cashier set sheets aside and voided the second transaction. Cashier placed sheets into customers’ bag. The cashier supervisor observed only the sheets being placed in the customers’ bag. Cashier supervisor did not notice the sheets being rung up. Cashier supervisor along with another co-supervisor approached customer.
Customer claims the co-supervisor snatched the bag out of her hand. Co-supervisor alleges he took the bag out of the customers shopping cart. The supervisors confiscate $250 worth of purchased goods and notify the customer that they will be performing a routine package check. Customer was detained for ten or fifteen minutes. Supervisors gave $10 to customer for her inconvenience. The court held that by confiscating the $250 worth of purchased goods; the customer had been coerced into staying inside the store for 10 or 15 minutes and was therefore detained.
The court reasoned that if a store owner, without any privilege, purposely prevents a customer from leaving by means of taking something of value from the customer and that customer reasonably remains in the store solely for the valuables, than that customer has been confined and therefore detained. Similar to our case at hand, both Jane as well as the customer in Clarke had been confined through the detainment of personal valuables. In Clarke, the detainment of expensive bed sheets ($250) proved to be enough coercion to satisfy a confinement.
In our case however, it was Jane’s dog that had been detained. Now, although it may be impossible to value the dog at any specific dollar amount, any patron willing to purchase a dog will most likely view the purchase as an investment rather than a burden. On the other hand, the defense will argue that owning a dog may be more of a liability than asset because maintaining a dog is expensive and by detaining the dog, Jane would be better off financially. The defense may have a valid argument, yet a dog is not an inanimate object; it is a pet.
Accordingly, if a customer won’t leave without their bed sheets as in Clarke, than certainly a customer will not leave without there pet. Any reasonable patron understands that a dog is a living creature and has feelings just as humans do. Any reasonable dog owner can understand the impact a pet can have on a person’s life and thus love their pet as if it were their own child. Obviously, it would be unconscionable to think that a reasonable person would leave their dog behind; they would act as Jane did.
Jane’s decision to go back into the store was clearly against her will and was therefore coerced. An arrest can be affected either through physical constraint or personal coercion that is the equivalent of physical constraint. In Tumbarella v. Kroger Co. , 85 Mich. App. 482, 271 N. W. 2d 284 (1978), two police officers approached a customer who was also an employee for the store. The security officers asked customer where the money was. Customer indicated that she did not know what they were talking about. Officers then made menacing gestures toward the customer.
Customer felt as if she was taken in custody. The officers’ threatened the customer with prosecution and jail. Customer felt restricted in her freedom both expressly and impliedly. The court held that the customer may seek nominal damages even if the officers had probable cause to believe the customer stole money from the store. The court reasoned that even if a shopkeeper suspects a person of taking without permission, the customers shoplifting does not give the shopkeeper the absolute privilege to detain the suspected shoplifter.

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