Las Vegas Office Prevails on Motion for Summary Judgment on All Claims Against Shoplifter

A merchant’s asset protection officer, after observing Plaintiff via surveillance camera concealing merchandise on his person, detained Plaintiff and summoned law enforcement officer. Plaintiff was arrested, tried and convicted of petty larceny. Plaintiff asserted claims against merchant for false imprisonment, slander, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring/retention/training of asset protection officer, malicious prosecution and punitive damages. Plaintiff contended that merchant knew or should have known that Plaintiff did not possess stolen merchandise at time of stop, that asset protection officer acted out of malice and exhibited unreasonable, extreme and outrageous conduct, that asset protection officer had “dangerous propensities” of which merchant knew or should have known at hiring, and that corporate officer had authorized or ratified wrongful conduct by employee. Merchant contended that Plaintiff’s subsequent conviction for petty larceny, along with asset protection officer’s observations prior to detention and reasonable actions afterward, justified application of Nevada Shopkeeper’s Privilege, which provides immunity for false imprisonment and slander. Moreover, merchant contended that Plaintiff failed to plead necessary elements of claims and proffered no evidence to support claims.

Las Vegas attorneys Brenda H. Entzminger and A. J. Sharp brought a motion for summary judgment before the United States District Court. Issues before the United States District Court included application of a qualified privilege for merchant’s statements to police, elements of the Shopkeeper’s Privilege, effect of Plaintiff’s criminal conviction on civil claims, definition of “officer” and “director” for purposes of assessing punitive damages against a corporation, nature and sufficiency of evidence required to show “severe emotional distress,” standards for reasonable, extreme or outrageous behavior, and elements for malicious prosecution claim. The Court also faced multiple procedural issues, including Plaintiff’s challenge to diversity jurisdiction based on Plaintiff’s fraudulent joinder of in-state defendant, Plaintiff’s motion to add a Section 1983 Civil Rights claim against police department and arresting officer, and Plaintiff’s insufficient service of process on individual defendant.

On April 26, 2010, United States District Judge James C. Mahan signed an order granting the merchant’s motion for summary judgment on all of Plaintiff’s claims.