...in Kingston


Parvi v. City of Kingston

Court of Appeals of New York, 1977.

41 N.Y.2d 553, 362 N.E.2d 960, 394 N.Y.S.2d 161.


Facts: The plaintiff was found by police under the influence of alcohol.The plaintiff informed the police he had nowhere to go, so the police took him to a location outside of city limits to get sober and left him there.The plaintiff wandered onto a highway and was hit by a car and injured.He testified that he had no recollection of the events of that night.The plaintiff sued for false imprisonment.The trial court dismissed the lawsuit and the appellate court upheld the dismissal.The plaintiff appealed again, and thatís where we are.


Issue: Is it necessary for the plaintiff to remember his imprisonment in order for him to have a cause for false imprisonment?


Rule: False imprisonment is suffered only when the victim is conscious of the imprisonment.


Analysis: The court says that though the plaintiff no longer remembers his imprisonment, it does not necessarily follow that the plaintiff was not conscious during his imprisonment.Whether or not the plaintiff was conscious of his imprisonment is a question of fact that should have been decided by the jury.


Conclusion: The decision of the appellate court was reversed.(Does this lead to a new trial?)


Dissenting Opinion: The burden of proof is on the plaintiff to make the case that a preponderance of the evidence shows he was indeed conscious of the imprisonment.The dissenting judge argues that the plaintiff failed to make the prima facie case for false imprisonment, and thus it was right for the lower court to dismiss the case.


Notes and Questions


1.     The basic idea of negligence is that everyone is required to perform in the way a reasonably prudent person would act under the circumstances.I think you could argue that since the police could have chosen to drop off the plaintiff pretty much anywhere, including somewhere safer, that they did not necessarily act in a prudent manner.But we havenít studied negligence yet, have we?

  1. I donít think there would be a cause of action because the police officer didnít restricting the physical freedom of the boy, but rather gave the boy more physical freedom than he would have had if he had not gotten a ride.The officer also may have legal justification because of his/her duties.Based on the rule, the diabetes sufferer would not have a cause of action for false imprisonment because he was not conscious of the imprisonment.There might be another tort, though.
  2. The doctor has a justification for the imprisonment.The question would be whether that justification is legal.As for the staff of the hospital initiating involuntary commitment procedures, they shouldnít be held liable for one tort if they were acting to prevent a worse tort.Maybe if they had let her go and commit suicide they could have been liable for negligent homicide.


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