Sean W. Martin and Katy Beth Carr, of the Chattanooga, Tennessee office of Carr Allison, recently obtained summary judgment in a case arising from a rather elaborate scheme to abscond with a pair of blue jeans without paying:
The plaintiff and five co-conspirators entered a department store within a large mall in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The plaintiff picked up a pair of blue jeans she purchased online. She milled around the store for ten minutes before she decided to return the jeans for a refund. During the refund process, the five accomplices loiter around the cash register. When the jeans were set on a cart for restocking, they were swiped by one of the accomplices. The jeans were shuffled three card monty style between the group. They all leave the store from different points of entry, each being pursued by a separate employee of the department store. Two accomplices exit into the mall and are approached by the store’s loss prevention personnel. The accomplices, not taking kindly to being stopped, punched the loss prevention personnel in the face and a fracas ensues. Mall security and off duty Chattanooga police officers ascend on the scene to break up the melee. Order is restored and everybody is brought back to the department store. Following the police investigation, the plaintiff was charged with theft of property under $500, booked, and her mug shot appeared in Just Busted magazine. She eventually pled not guilty and her case was bound over to the grand jury. She was indicted by the grand jury. Thereafter, the DA dismissed the case to focus his limited resources on several on her co-conspirators with longer rap sheets.
A civil suit followed under theories of malicious prosecution and false imprisonment. Instead of an Answer, a motion to dismiss was filed. The motion was granted because the false imprisonment claim was time-barred. The plaintiff could not sustain a cause of action for malicious prosecution because her criminal case was not terminated favorably. No appeal was taken and the judgment is now final.
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