210 F.3d 51 (1st Cir. 2000), 99-1162, McCann v Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

Docket Nº:99-1162, 99-1355
Citation:210 F.3d 51
Party Name:DEBRA MCCANN, PERSONALLY, AND AS MOTHER AND NEXT FRIEND OF JILLIAN MCCANN AND JONATHAN MCCANN, PLAINTIFFS, APPELLEES/CROSS-APPELLANTS, v. WAL-MART STORES, INC., DEFENDANT, APPELLANT/CROSS-APPELLEE.
Case Date:April 14, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
 
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210 F.3d 51 (1st Cir. 2000)

DEBRA MCCANN, PERSONALLY, AND AS MOTHER AND NEXT FRIEND OF JILLIAN MCCANN AND JONATHAN MCCANN, PLAINTIFFS, APPELLEES/CROSS-APPELLANTS,

v.

WAL-MART STORES, INC., DEFENDANT, APPELLANT/CROSS-APPELLEE.

Nos. 99-1162, 99-1355

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit

April 14, 2000

Heard March 7, 2000

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John W. McCarthy with whom Rudman & Winchell, Llc was on consolidated brief for defendant.

Samuel W. Lanham, Jr. with whom Cuddy & Lanham was on consolidated brief for plaintiffs.

Before Boudin, Circuit Judge, Bownes, Senior Circuit Judge, and Lynch, Circuit Judge.

Boudin, Circuit Judge.

This case involves a claim for false imprisonment. On December 11, 1996, Debra McCann and two of her children--Jillian, then 16, and Jonathan, then 12--were shopping at the Wal-Mart store in Bangor, Maine. After they returned a Christmas tree and exchanged a CD player, Jonathan went to the toy section and Jillian and Debra McCann went to shop in other areas of the store. After approximately an hour and a half, the McCanns went to a register and paid for their purchases. One of their receipts was time stamped at 10:10 p.m.

As the McCanns were leaving the store, two Wal-Mart employees, Jean Taylor and Karla Hughes, stepped out in front of the McCanns' shopping cart, blocking their path to the exit. Taylor may have actually put her hand on the cart. The employees told Debra McCann that the children were

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not allowed in the store because they had been caught stealing on a prior occasion. In fact, the employees were mistaken; the son of a different family had been caught shoplifting in the store about two weeks before, and Taylor and Hughes confused the two families.

Despite Debra McCann's protestations, Taylor said that they had the records, that the police were being called, and that the McCanns "had to go with her." Debra McCann testified that she did not resist Taylor's direction because she believed that she had to go with Taylor and that the police were coming. Taylor and Hughes then brought the McCanns past the registers in the store to an area near the store exit. Taylor stood near the McCanns while Hughes purportedly went to call the police. During this time, Debra McCann tried to show Taylor her identification, but Taylor refused to look at it.

After a few minutes, Hughes returned and switched places with Taylor. Debra McCann told Hughes that she had proof of her identity and that there must be some proof about the identity of the children who had been caught stealing. Hughes then went up to Jonathan, pointed her finger at him, and said that he had been caught stealing two weeks earlier. Jonathan began to cry and denied the accusation. At some point around this time Jonathan said that he needed to use the bathroom and Hughes told him he could not go. At no time during this initial hour or so did the Wal-Mart employees tell the McCanns that they could leave.

Although Wal-Mart's employees had said they were calling the police, they actually called a store security officer who would be able to identify the earlier shoplifter. Eventually, the security officer, Rhonda Bickmore, arrived at the store and informed Hughes that the McCanns were not the family whose son had been caught shoplifting. Hughes then acknowledged her mistake to the McCanns, and the McCanns left the store at approximately 11:15 p.m. In...

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