United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Tampa Division
CHARLENE EDWARDS HONEYWELL UNITED STATES DISTRICT
matter comes before the Court upon Defendants' Motions to
Dismiss Plaintiff's Fourth Amended Complaint (Doc. 241;
Doc. 242) and Plaintiff's responses thereto (Doc. 245;
Doc. 248). The Court, having considered the parties'
submissions and being fully advised in the premises, will
grant in part and deny in part the Motions to Dismiss.
Darrell Archer (“Plaintiff”), a California
citizen, visited Defendant Wal-Mart Stores East, LP
(“Walmart”) in Polk County, Florida on November
26, 2015 to purchase a television set. Doc. 237 at
¶¶ 5, 14-15. Plaintiff paid for the television by
credit card at an automated checkout line with the assistance
of a Walmart employee, Diamond Hernandez
(“Hernandez”). Id. at ¶¶
14-15, 50. Following the purchase, Plaintiff placed the
television in a Walmart shopping cart and proceeded to the
Walmart exit immediately adjacent to the automated checkout
line. Id. at ¶ 16.
Plaintiff approached the exit, a different Walmart employee,
Defendant Kanara Harris (“Harris”), stopped
Plaintiff and asked to see his receipt. Id. at
¶ 17. Harris positioned himself in front of
Plaintiff's shopping cart, preventing Plaintiff from
declined to provide his receipt and explained that he had
just purchased the television a few feet away. Id.
at ¶ 19. Harris continued to block Plaintiff's path
to the exit. Id. at ¶ 24. Harris summoned
fellow Walmart employee, Defendant Charles Caraway
(“Caraway”), and a police officer, Defendant Brad
Webster (“Webster”), and advised them that
Plaintiff had refused to produce his receipt. Id. at
who was dressed in police uniform, accused Plaintiff of
shoplifting. Id. at ¶ 29. Webster advised
Plaintiff that he was not free to leave the store, and
Plaintiff believed that he was in fact not free to leave the
store, either with or without his television. Id. at
¶ 30. Caraway continued to detain Plaintiff with the
assistance of Webster. Id. at ¶ 31. Caraway
accused Plaintiff of failing to pay for the television and
attempting to shoplift. Id.
summoned his assistant manager, Defendant Kristine Wood
(“Wood”), who arrived at the scene. Id.
at ¶ 32. Another police officer also dressed in police
uniform, Defendant Ken Nichols (“Nichols”),
arrived at about the same time as Wood. Id. at
¶ 33. Wood and Nichols were advised that Plaintiff had
been asked to produce a receipt but refused. Id. at
¶ 34. They were also advised of Plaintiff's
statement that he had just purchased the television at the
checkout area immediately adjacent. Id. at ¶
35. Wood, Caraway, Webster, and Nichols all continued to
detain Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 36.
police officer, Defendant Dan Gaskin (“Gaskin”),
also dressed in police uniform, arrived at the scene and was
advised of the situation. Id. at ¶ 37. Gaskin
assisted with detaining Plaintiff. Id. at ¶ 38.
In addition, Gaskin took and removed Plaintiff's
television from his possession and control. Id.
Plaintiff's television was not returned to him despite
his repeated demands during his detention. Id. at
¶ 39. Plaintiff attempted to leave the store with his
property on several occasions, but was prevented from doing
so by Wood, Caraway, Webster, Nichols, and Gaskin.
Id. at ¶ 41.
time of Plaintiff's detention, Walmart had a store policy
which provided that a person who “refuses to show his
receipt of purchase . . . to nevertheless be permitted to
leave the store with their merchandise.” Id.
at ¶ 22. Wood, Caraway, Harris, Webster, Nichols, and
Gaskin were all fully aware of the policy and “each
knew that refusal to produce a receipt was neither a
justification for the detention of the customer nor seizure
of his property.” Id. at ¶¶ 31, 36,
68. The Walmart employees, Harris, Wood, and Caraway, never
attempted to prevent the police officers from seizing
Plaintiff's property by “pointing out or reminding
them [that] the store policy was to allow customers to leave
with their property even if they refused to produce a
receipt.” Id. at ¶ 71.
Plaintiff's detention, Caraway, Nichols, and Gaskin
repeatedly called Plaintiff a “thief, ” accused
him of shoplifting, and threated to arrest him if he
didn't show his receipt for the television. Id.
at ¶ 42. Neither Wood, Caraway, Webster, Nichols, or
Gaskin made any effort to conduct an independent
investigation to determine if Plaintiff had paid for the
television, even though Plaintiff told them that he had made
the purchase at the checkout area nearby. Id. at
the employee who helped Plaintiff with his purchase, saw
Plaintiff being detained at the exit. Id. at ¶
51. Hernandez contacted her supervisor to advise that
Plaintiff had in fact purchased the television. Id.
at ¶ 52. Hernandez's supervisor, however, failed to
take any action or advise Wood, Caraway, Nichols, Gaskin, or
Webster of this information. Id. at ¶ 53.
Instead, the supervisor advised Hernandez to wait until after
her shift to advise asset protection that Plaintiff had
purchased the television. Id.
detention continued. Id. at ¶ 54. During
Plaintiff's detention, Wood and Caraway did not actually
believe that Plaintiff stole the television “but
nevertheless continued to unlawfully detain him and prevent
him from leaving the store with his property.”
Id. at ¶ 66. Eventually, Plaintiff was
“trespassed” from the premises without the
television. Id. at ¶ 55. Nichols advised
Plaintiff that he had to leave the premises and that he was
forbidden from taking the television with him. Id.
at ¶ 56. Plaintiff insisted that he be allowed to take
the television, but was repeatedly advised that he would be
arrested if he did not leave the premises immediately without
the television. Id. at ¶ 57.
avoid arrest, Plaintiff reluctantly agreed to leave the
premises without his television. Id. at ¶ 58.
Plaintiff was escorted off the premises by the police
officers. Id. Plaintiff's detention and escort
off the property occurred in public in the presence of dozens
of customers. Id. at ¶ 61. The Walmart
customers entering and exiting the store heard the
accusations against Plaintiff and observed his detention.
Id. at ¶ 61. This subjected Plaintiff to
humiliation, embarrassment, and emotional distress.
Id. Throughout the incident, Plaintiff was never
threatening, belligerent, obstructive, or disturbing of the
public peace and quiet. Id. at ¶ 63.
investigation, after Plaintiff was forced to leave, revealed
that Plaintiff had purchased the television at the checkout
aisle near the exit. Id. at ¶ 60. During
Plaintiff's detention, Harris, Caraway, Wood, and Edward
Camp (“Camp”) were acting within the scope of
their employment with Walmart. Id. at ¶¶
11, 62. Walmart was responsible for the actions of its
employees and of the police officers working at Walmart
providing extra-duty police services for the store.
Id. at ¶¶ 69-70.
survive a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6), a pleading
must include a “short and plain statement of the claim
showing that the pleader is entitled to relief.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 677-78 (2009)
(quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). Labels, conclusions and
formulaic recitations of the elements of a cause of action
are not sufficient. Id. (citing Bell Atlantic
Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).
Furthermore, mere naked assertions are not sufficient.
Id. A complaint must contain sufficient factual
matter, which, if accepted as true, would “state a
claim to relief that is plausible on its face.”
Id. (quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570).
“A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff
pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the
reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the