Enright v. Groves

Colorado Court of Appeals, 1977.

39 Colo.App. 39, 560 P.2d 851.

Prosser, 43-45.


Facts: The defendant, a police officer, was enforcing a dog leash ordinance and approached the plaintiff in her car.He demanded her driverís license several times, but she refused.Groves threatened to arrest her if she didnít produce her license, but Enright did not comply. Groves forcibly took her into custody and filed a complaint against her for the dog leash violation, for which she was later convicted.Enright sued for false imprisonment and won damages in the trial court.


Procedural Procedure: The defendant appealed on the basis that he had probable cause to arrest Enright, since she was later convicted.


Issue: Did Groves have the proper legal authority to arrest Enright?


Rule: ďFalse arrest arises when one is taken into custody by a person who claims but does not have proper legal authority.Ē


Analysis: The court reasons that the officer did not have proper legal authority because there he evidence he did not arrest Groves for the dog leash violation, but rather for failing to produce her driverís license.


Conclusion: The court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.


Notes and Questions


1.     If the defendant is not an officer, it would make false imprisonment even more likely to lie.In the case of the filling station attendant, there is apparently no proper legal authority, so if the plaintiff is held against their will, it would be false imprisonment.In the latter case, it would make a difference whether the defendant accurately stated the law.When you have a broken leg, it would seem that denying you a means of transportation physically prevents you from moving, so false imprisonment makes sense.

2.     What if the police officer is knocked unconscious while trying to arrest someone unlawfully, and then a bystander intervenes and detains the arrestee?

3.     Again, this makes sense for policy reasons.


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