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False imprisonment.

In a case recently decided by the Illinois Court of Appeals, the court ruled that an employer could not be held liable for the unwarranted arrest of an employee charged with theft of company property. The employee, who was held by police for a theft he did not commit, cannot sue his employer for false imprisonment, the court ruled.

In February 1996, Erik Carey was employed as a night shift manager at a McDonald's restaurant in Park Forest, Illinois, owned by a company called K-Way. As a manager, he was responsible for counting the daily intake of money, filling out a deposit slip, and putting the money in the safe to be deposited the next day.

On February 8, Ron Malvin, the restaurant's general manager, was informed that the deposit slips taken to the bank on the two previous days did not match the copies of the slips kept in the safe. The general manager contacted Tedd Kagianas, part owner of the McDonald's, who came to the restaurant to investigate the matter.

When Carey came into work, his coworker James Purifoy was in distress and told Carey of the theft. Purifoy, a new father, explained that he was afraid that management would suspect him of the thefts and fire him. In an attempt to calm Purifoy, Carey said that because the thefts occurred during his shift he, rather than Purifoy, would probably be blamed. (It was later proved at trial that Carey was not even at the restaurant during one of the thefts, and his handwriting was clearly different from that on the deposit slips.)

Meanwhile, Kagianas examined the deposit slips and determined that a manager was probably responsible because it was clear that the thief was familiar with the money-handling system at the restaurant. Kagianas and Malvin began interviewing the managers starting with Purifoy. When questioned, Purifoy informed the two men that Carey said he "would take responsibility" for the thefts. Kagianas called the police.

Two police officers came to the restaurant and took Carey to the police station. The information the police used to arrest Carey is unclear. In statements later given at trial, the officers claim that Kagianas and Malvin told them that they suspected Carey. Kagianas and Malvin contend that they said no such thing and that the police also held private interviews with other employees, including Purifoy.

Carey was handcuffed, taken to the police station, and questioned for two hours. He was then locked in a cell for an hour and a half and then questioned again. He was eventually released after telling police that another manager might be the culprit. Carey knew that the manager was having financial trouble and was in the process of being fired from the restaurant.

In May, Carey filed a lawsuit against K-Way for false imprisonment. K-Way requested summary judgment--a hearing based on the facts of a case without a trial. The court granted the summary judgment, ruling that K-Way could not be held liable for the actions of the police. Carey appealed the decision.

The Illinois Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision, ruling that while Carey was falsely imprisoned, K-Way cannot be held liable for that imprisonment.

To prevail on a claim of false imprisonment under Illinois law, a plaintiff must prove that a private person requested the arrest. The court determined that even if Kagianas and Malvin did tell the police they suspected Carey, that act was not enough to prove false imprisonment. (Carey v.

K-Way, Inc., Illinois Court of Appeals, No. 1-99-2461, 2000)
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Author:ANDERSON, TERESA
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2000
Words:589
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