Woman Receives $1.2 Million Dollar Verdict for False Arrest

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer yesterday reported on a Columbus, Ohio woman who received a jury verdict against a department store stemming from an unlawful arrest.  The woman, Patricia Gail Jackson, on May 21, 2003 purchased a pair of shorts at the store.  After leaving the store and while approaching her car, two plain-clothes security officers employed by the store told her she had just been caught shoplifting.  The woman tried to show the two officers her receipt of the purchase but the men would not look at the receipt and insisted she come back into the store.

At this time the woman told the men she wanted to call the police, but the men took her phone away from her and placed her in handcuffs.  The woman was then brought to a detention room in the store.  Eventually, the security guards, after verifying the woman’s purchase, released her from custody and allowed her to leave the store.

Unlike auto accidents, slips and falls, and other accidents where negligence is involved, this case demonstrates what is often referred to as "intentional torts."  Intentional torts include civil assault, battery, and false imprisonment.  These three intentional torts were at play in this case.  This case sent a message to department stores, as well as other stores, that they will be financially punished if they do not respect the rights of their customers.

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