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Texas False Imprisonment

© 2014 Mark Courtois

The elements of a False Imprisonment claim in Texas are: 1) willful detention; 2) without consent; and 3) without authority of law. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Rodriguez, 92 S.W.3d 502, 506 (Tex. 2002); Sears, Roebuck & Co. v. Castillo, 693 S.W.2d 374, 375 (Tex. 1985).

Any conduct that was intended to cause the detention of another, and in fact caused the detention, may satisfy the first element of the false-imprisonment claim. Rodriguez, 92 S.W.3d at 507.  Accordingly, liability for false imprisonment may extend beyond those who actually do the detention to those who request or direct the detention.  This is sometimes referred to as "instigation" of false imprisonment which requires proof that the Defendant clearly directed or requested an officer carry out the arrest. Id.  To hold a third party liable for instigating the detention through an unlawful arrest by a police officer, the arrest must be made by an officer, not of his or her own volition, but to carry out the request of the defendant. Id.  The giving of inaccurate information to law enforcement authorities to prompt an arrest is not a basis for liability, but a third-party can be held liable for false imprisonment for knowingly providing false information to law enforcement resulting in an arrest. Id. at 509 - 510.

A detention may be accomplished by violence, threats, or any other means that restrains a person from moving from one place to another. Randall's Food Mkts., Inc. v. Johnson, 891 S.W.2d 640, 645 (Tex. 1995).  Where it is alleged that a detention is effected by a threat, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the threat was such as would inspire in the threatened person a just fear of injury to her person, reputation, or property. Id.