Hampton v. Norred & Associates, Inc.

Decision Date22 February 1995
Docket NumberNo. A94A2292,A94A2292
Citation454 S.E.2d 222,216 Ga.App. 367
CourtGeorgia Court of Appeals

Lynn H. Whatley, Smith, Howard & Ajax, Matthew G. Moffett, Michael J. Rust, Atlanta, for appellant.

Webb, Carlock, Copeland, Semler & Stair, Kent T. Stair, Robert W. Browning, King & Spalding, William A. Clineburg, Jr., Atlanta, for appellee.


United Parking, Inc., hired Norred & Associates, Inc., to investigate employees suspected of stealing money from United. Norred investigators questioned United employee Paul Hampton regarding the alleged thefts. Hampton then sued Norred and others, claiming, among other things, he was falsely imprisoned during the questioning and is entitled to punitive damages and attorney fees. The trial court granted summary judgment to the defendants on all of Hampton's claims. Hampton appeals.

1. Hampton contends the court erred in granting summary judgment to Norred on the false imprisonment claim. "On summary judgment, [the] movant has the burden to show there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that [it] is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. 'In ruling on a motion for summary judgment, ... the court should construe the evidence and all inferences and conclusions arising therefrom most favorably toward the party opposing the motion.' [Cit.]" Williams v. Food Lion, 213 Ga.App. 865(1), 446 S.E.2d 221 (1994); OCGA § 9-11-56. Construing the evidence in the current case and all inferences therefrom most favorably toward Hampton, we conclude Norred did not meet its burden of showing there are no genuine issues of material fact and that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law on the false imprisonment claim.

"The essential elements of the cause of action for false imprisonment are a detention of the person of another for any length of time, and the unlawfulness of that detention. A detention need not consist of physical restraint, but may arise out of words, acts, gestures, or the like, which induce a reasonable apprehension that force will be used if plaintiff does not submit; and it is sufficient if they operate upon the will of the person threatened, and result in a reasonable fear of personal difficulty or personal injuries." (Citations and punctuation omitted.) Fields v. Kroger Co., 202 Ga.App. 475, 414 S.E.2d 703 (1992); see OCGA § 51-7-20. "A person need not make an effort to escape or to resist until an application of open force results, thereby risking possible physical injury, before he can recover; however, an actual detention must have occurred whether caused by force or fear." (Citation omitted.) Williams v. Food Lion, supra 213 Ga.App. at 865(2), 446 S.E.2d 221. In the instant case, Hampton's deposition testimony creates genuine issues of material fact as to whether he was unlawfully detained by actual physical restraint and by the words and acts of Norred agents which reasonably induced him into believing force would be used against him if he did not submit to their questioning.

Hampton testified that he was questioned for three or four hours in a room at United's office building by a man identifying himself as a City of Atlanta police officer. Hampton later learned this man was not a police officer, but was actually a Norred investigator. During the questioning, the investigator had handcuffs lying on a table, had a gun and microphone strapped to his leg, cursed at Hampton and called him names, stomped on the floor, and kicked and beat the table. More than once Hampton attempted to leave the room, but two other Norred agents prevented him from exiting by blocking the doorway and bumping into him. These agents told Hampton to sit back down because they had not finished questioning him and he could not leave until he admitted how much money he had stolen. The Norred investigator then took $70 from Hampton and forced him to sign a statement admitting the thefts.

Norred argues that in spite of this testimony Hampton was not detained because he admitted he voluntarily went to United's office building and never asked to leave. This argument is disingenuous and misconstrues Hampton's deposition testimony. A review of his entire deposition reveals that Hampton never contradicted the material elements of his testimony that he initially went to United's offices at the request of the company president, but was not told...

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8 cases
  • Mehinovic v. Vuckovic, CIV.A.1:98-CV-2470-M.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
    • April 29, 2002
    ...and physical violence in detention and was complicit in plaintiffs' ongoing arbitrary detention. See Hampton v. Norred & Assocs., 216 Ga.App. 367, 454 S.E.2d 222, 223-24 (1995). Therefore, Vuckovic is liable to plaintiffs under Georgia law for false C. Intentional Infliction of Emotional Di......
  • Smith v. Wal-Mart Stores E., LP.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • November 21, 2014
    ...dumping the 330 Ga.App. 345contents of her shopping bag, “provoked no further action” by employee). Compare Hampton v. Norred & Assoc., 216 Ga.App. 367, 368 –369(1), 454 S.E.2d 222 (1995) (plaintiff raised a question of fact as to whether he was falsely imprisoned when evidence showed that ......
  • Matthews v. Tele-Systems, Inc., A99A1041.
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • November 17, 1999
    ...246 S.E.2d 278 (1978). 15. See Johnson v. MARTA, 230 Ga.App. 105, 107(2), 495 S.E.2d 583 (1998); compare Hampton v. Norred & Assoc., 216 Ga.App. 367, 369-370(2), 454 S.E.2d 222 (1995). 16. See Barber v. Collins, 194 Ga.App. 385, 386(3), 390 S.E.2d 633 17. Mullen v. Nezhat, 223 Ga.App. 278, ......
  • Kiser v. State
    • United States
    • United States Court of Appeals (Georgia)
    • April 9, 2014
    ...of words, acts, gestures, or the like, which induce a reasonable apprehension that force will be used....” Hampton v. Norred & Assoc., 216 Ga.App. 367, 368(1), 454 S.E.2d 222 (1995). In this case, the victim testified that he could not leave through the only door to the mobile home after Da......
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