Bonkowski v. Arlan's Department Store
Appellate Court of MI - 1968
- Reinhardt was a private security officer hired by D. Reinhardt suspected that P stole property from D, so he followed P out of the store.
- Reinhardt motioned for P to stop in the parking lot. P denied the allegations. Reinhardt asked P to empty her purse. P did, and Reinhardt was satisfied that P did not steal.
- P brought an action against D for slander and false arrest.
- Trial court found for P and denied D's motion for JNOV.
- MI Appellate Court reversed, remanded.
- Does a merchant have the right to detain an individual who he believes has stolen merchandise from his store for a reasonable investigation?
- A merchant has the right to detain an individual who he believes has stolen merchandise from his store for a reasonable investigation.
- This privilege is a defense to the common law tort of false arrest. It is necessary since merchants do not have the right to arrest shoplifters.
- The suspected shoplifter must be within the immediate premises of the store.
- The jury should decide whether Reinhardt could have reasonably believed that P had stolen merchandise. Also, the jury must decide if the investigation was reasonable.
- If reasonable, then D not liable.