However, the security guard's actions likely constitute battery or false imprisonment—intentional torts—not negligence. Although nurses or patients may disagree with the wisdom of such a decision, in most situations, patients do have the right to refuse treatment. False imprisonment allegations can arise from actions such as the involuntary commitment to hospitals of a patient with a psychiatric diagnosis and the unjustified physical restraint of a patient. Some court cases have applied select constitutional limitations, from the Bill of Rights, to private sector action, especially if private security personnel are working with public police or if off-duty police are working part-time to assist private sector security efforts. The defendant is the actual cause of that distress. It comes in many forms and does not require physical restraint necessarily. Negligence: Causing injury to persons or property by failing to use reasonable care or by taking unreasonable risk. § 2903, 2011). Specific Types of Crimes and Offenses 227, Offenses against the Habitation and Other Buildings 260, Offenses against Public Order and Decency 277, Practical Exercise: Cross-Examination 288, A. false imprisonment in the healthcare context. Nursing home staff who medicates a patient without their consent under physical or emotional threat. Copyright © 2020 Hafif-Stonehouse Law Group, APLC. False Imprisonment as a tort: False Imprisonment may be defined as an act of the defendant which causes the unlawful confinement of the plaintiff. Assault: Intentional causing of fear of harmful or offensive touching. Battery: Intentionally harmful or offensive touching of another. For example, the senior may be prohibited from leaving his or her room or a specific wing of the facility. A critical element of the claim is consciousness of confinement. Trespass to personal property: Taking or damaging another person’s possessions. False imprisonment is a tort that protects an individual from restraint of movement. Constitutional law has had a significant impact on the practice of medicine, particularly in the areas of reproduction, abortions, the right to privacy, and in end-of-life matters, such as advanced directives and living wills. This is often called a preponderance of the evidence test. A false imprisonment is an intentional, total and direct restraint on a person’s liberty: Barker et al at p 48. In other words, the person held had to … Such damages may be nominal, for example one dollar, and serve merely to illustrate vindication on the part of the plaintiff. Falling under the category of intentional torts, false imprisonment involves intentionally restricting another person's freedom of movement. For a brief summary of case law, see Louisiana State University's web link at http://biotech.law.lsu.edu/courses/tortsf01/iiem.htm. A contract is an agreement to do something, which is legally binding on one or both parties. They involve such areas as guarantees to individuals of certain fundamental rights, including the right of compensation for taking of private property of someone's domain, the right of privacy, the right to travel, and the right to vote. In other words, the person held had to reasonably believe they could not leave. After unsuccessful atte… The doctor has had to increase his medication and to add another tranquilizer in an effort to control Garza's attacks. Punitive damages are imposed on the basis of public policy, and serve much the same role as that of a criminal fine imposed by the state under criminal prosecution. Libel refers to the written word; slander, to the spoken word. In the event that a nonemployee is implicated and may be involved in the incident that necessitated the investigation, interviews of these individuals are critical to a successful resolution. Practicing without a current and valid license is illegal and it amounts to pra… A critical element of the claim is consciousness of confinement. Criminal law focuses on the behavioral requirements imposed by the state or the federal government upon the particular individual. In other words, the person held had to reasonably believe they could not leave. The borders of extreme and outrageous behavior encompass harsh insults, threats, handcuffing, physical abuse, and humiliation.60. Examples of administrative agencies include the Federal Food and Drug Administration, and the Departments of Health, both federal and state, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Workman's Compensation, State Medical Licensing Boards, and all other forms of regulatory activity impacting medical practice and the health care provider. Unintentional torts fall primarily within the area of negligence. The best preventive medicine that security professionals can ingest is to be certain, regardless of the innocence or guilt of the suspect, not to create conditions that could be characterized or described as extreme or outrageous. All rights reserved. The physician–patient relationship is based on a contract. Criminal law presents a further deterrent against criminal action by private sector personnel. If you believe you were falsely imprisoned, speak to an attorney who is knowledgeable in torts law. However, it is not always easy for the Prosecution to make out. Malicious prosecution: Groundless initiation of criminal proceedings against another. One qualifier to false imprisonment liability is that a victim must be conscious of the fact that he or she is being confined or threatened with force if he or she moves. False imprisonment is the tort of restraining a person that person's will. A warranty of fitness means that the seller, if he regularly sells such items, warrants that they are fit for their intended use or purpose. Examples include laws prohibiting impersonation of a public official, using electronic surveillance, breaking and entering, and assault. This incident also illustrates the wisdom of contracting out the security duties for the office to an independent company. Moreover, it is legitimate for security guards and other individuals to use a reasonable degree of force to protect third parties who are in danger. The teenager was Baker Acted and wrongly accused of using illicit drugs. Trespass to land: Unauthorized entering upon another person’s property. Charles P. Nemeth J.D., Ph.D., LL.M, in Private Security and the Law (Fourth Edition), 2012. false imprisonment: Etymology: L, falsus, deceptive; ME, imprisonen (in law) an intentional tort; the intentional unjustified, nonconsensual detention or confinement of a person within fixed boundaries for any length of time. Is It Worth Suing for Defamation to Protect Your Reputation? The assistant's actions constituted negligence, at worst. Call (909) 291-2439 or (888) 909-2439 for A Free Consultation. The person does not need to try to escape. Recent trends and the use of structured settlements have somewhat complicated the computation of damages in malpractice lawsuits, but the theory of damages is to compensate the injured plaintiff who has proved his or her case, and to restore insofar as possible that plaintiff to the original position before the injury occurred. On the other hand, a contract may be implied, for example where the patient presents himself or herself for treatment. Conduct can result in both a crime and a tort: in other words, a security practitioner can be arrested and sued. To prove it, the claimant must show the following, although the precise way these elements are articulated and laid out varies from state to state; A defense to false imprisonment is consent to confinement, whether express or implied. Civil action is only one factor hindering abuses by the private sector. The general area of warranties in products liability cases is discussed fully in Chapter 19. At best, the term “emotional distress” is a series of “disagreeable states of mind that fall under the labels of fright, horror, grief, shame, humiliation, embarrassment, worry, etc.”61 The behavior complained of must be so extreme and outrageous as “to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.”62 Furthermore, the emotional distress allegedly suffered must be serious.63 A mere insult or petty bickering does not qualify. In healthcare, false imprisonment happens when a patient is held involuntarily in a hospital, nursing home, other health facility or institution, or even in an ambulance. For example, if the nurse restrains a patient from meeting the loved ones and threatens that she would not give food or medicine if the patient does not abide by her restriction, then this condition is false imprisonment. The private security employee's very position may make seemingly innocent conduct outrageous or extreme.64 The issue of emotional damages came to the forefront in Montgomery Ward v. Garza.65 In assessing the damages of a plaintiff in a false imprisonment case, the court considered testimony by the plaintiff that he was embarrassed and humiliated: His son testified that Garza seemed confused, embarrassed, and frightened. In healthcare, false imprisonment happens when a patient is held involuntarily in a hospital, nursing home, other health facility or institution, or even in an ambulance. An administrative assistant in the human resources department told people in the community that a specific employee is going to be fired for sexual harassment, even though you are only investigating allegations of such behavior. In general, when a given piece of information is sufficiently reliable that it can be considered as useful in assisting the judge or jury to make an informed decision, the judge would allow its admissibility as evidence during the trial. No. The following examples don't constitute false imprisonment: A claim that you were falsely imprisoned simply because you were found innocent of a crime. The detention was unlawful, or not in a privileged context. A physician holding a patient against his or her will, in absence of a court order, could be held liable for false imprisonment. Thus the scope for liability can be considerably greater than in a negligence case. One important point to be noted is that, in most states, the statute of limitations for litigation under a contract theory is of considerably longer duration than that for a tort claim. This exposes them to increased liability with respect to these types of events. Typically, the person who imprisons the resident will disable the resident by leaving them without their wheelchair or crutches or threaten the resident with harm or deprivation of food or water. “Where most false imprisonment claims arise in connection with hospital cases is whether the detention is unlawful,” says Stephen Shows , a senior risk resource advisor at ProAssurance Companies in Birmingham, AL. While contract law deals with the transfer of such property between two or more persons, property law deals primarily with the concept of entitlements and ownership. While these issues are resolved through clear policies at the facility and training to reinforce the policy, many companies still do not align their policies and procedures with their practice. In most cases the legal involvement of the practicing health care provider will be limited to forms of civil liability, but the potential for criminal involvement does exist. In false imprisonment lawsuits, both parties usually agree that the patient was detained against his or her will. This usually pertains to licensing and registration requirements. Based on this evidence the Court found that the award of $50,000.00 was “not so excessive that it shocks our sense of justice and the verdict was therefore affirmed.”66, In an age when psychiatric objectification is readily accepted and the judicial process welcomes the expert testimony of psychologists, it is not surprising that the bulk of tort actions seek emotional damages. The primary torts relevant to private security are as follows: False imprisonment: The intentional and forceful confinement or restriction of the freedom of movement of another person, also called false arrest. Just as public police must maintain an aura of decorum and professionalism, it is imperative that private justice personnel minimize the influence of emotion in daily activities. Public police officers have greater police powers than private security officers, who typically possess citizen’s arrest powers. Such situations arise in cases involving involuntary commitment of a patient with a mental disorder, where a patient is held without compliance with laws governing civil commitments. The tort of false imprisonment occurs with unjustified restraint of a person without legal warrant. She was admitted to King’s College Hospital on the 19 October 2010 with pulmonary oedema caused by acute left sided heart failure. This action is more likely against public police than private security. False imprisonment involves only restraint of a person, not allowing him to leave. With over 30 years of exemplary legal experience and recognition in the legal community, Hafif-Stonehouse Law Group, APLC, maintains an established team of attorneys, paralegals, secretarial, legal research support and writing professionals who are readily available to aggressively handle your case. An implied warranty of fitness is present in all transfers of goods within the United States, unless such a warranty has been specifically disclaimed at the time that the sales contract is executed. Quick Summary: The law on involuntary mental health holds must be followed to the letter at the risk of the patient filing a civil false imprisonment lawsuit. In this case, however, a note written in a chart led to a charge of false imprisonment by a patient against a hospital. Medical malpractice lawsuits may involve a number of branches of law, including torts, contracts, agency and administrative law, property, constitutional law, evidence, criminal law, damages, and restitution. The patient's chair and walker are moved away from bedside during the activities of daily living treatment session. Even though they have greater police powers, public officers are limited in their actions by the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution. Consider its basic elements: The intention is to cause another severe emotional distress. Cases also have been reported in the legal literature involving allegations of false imprisonment involving health care professionals attempting to stop, or actually prohibiting, patients from leaving the clinic area pending resolution of outstanding billing charges. A critical element of the claim is consciousness of confinement. 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