Do you believe you have a false imprisonment lawsuit? Each state has their own law on false imprisonment (or false arrest), and so does the federal system.
Below we will discuss three basics of a false imprisonment lawsuit in the context of Maryland law. Readers of this post are entitled to a free consultation. (see link at end of the article)
Table of Contents
You Must Be Deprived of your Liberty
For false imprisonment lawsuit under Maryland law you must show that you have been deprived of your liberty.
Loss of liberty can involve a short period of detention or a prolonged period of time in jail or prison. An extended period of imprisonment is not required for your false imprisonment lawsuit but longer periods of liberty loss may increase the amount of money damages that you are entitled to.
Typically those who commit false imprisonment are the police or storeowners who believe someone has shoplifted from their store.
Whether you are actually imprisoned or not is not the main factor. “The elements of false imprisonment are the same as the elements for false arrest.” Davis v. DiPino,121 Md.App. 28, 38, , cert. granted, 350 Md. 488 (1998).
Was the Action by the Police or Store Legally Justified?
Legal justification is one of the key elements of any false imprisonment lawsuit. Safeway Stores, Inc. v. Barrack, 210 Md. 168, 173-74, (1956).Legal justification is a complicated topic and is fact-specific.
Your case may involve a warrant, or it may not. You may have been initially detained by a store employee, or the store employee may have told an officer that you shoplifted and then the police arrested you.
The bottom line is, whether it is the police, a store employee, or a combination of both, the person who arrested your or detained you must have had legal justification to do so.
Punitive Damages are Available for a False Arrest Lawsuit
First, what are punitive damages? Punitive damages are damages assessed to punish the person you are suing for outrageous conduct and/or to reform or deter the person you are suing and others from engaging in conduct similar to that which formed the basis of the lawsuit.
Your false imprisonment lawsuit may be the appropriate case to ask for punitive damages. Around the country we have seen arrest powers abused by the police and by store owners. Police and business owners will not deter their conduct unless there is punishment. Money talks.
Punitive damages are recoverable in an action for false imprisonment, as long as the plaintiff can show actual malice. Montgomery Ward v. Wilson, 339 Md. 701, 730, 664 A.2d 916 (1995).
Actual malice requires additional proof of the state of mind of the police or store employee in your case. We must review the specific facts of your case to determine if punitive damages are appropriate. Would you like a free consultation?
Free Consultation for False Imprisonment Lawsuit
At Seddiq Law, our lawyers are licensed in Maryland, Washington, D.C., New York, and Arkansas. We are also licensed to practice in federal court in those jurisdictions.
If you believe you have a false arrest lawsuit, click the below image for your free consultation.