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Caldor, Inc. v. Bowden

625 A.2d 959 (1993)

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Caldor, Inc. v. Bowden

Maryland Court of Appeals

625 A.2d 959 (1993)

Facts

Samuel Bowden was a 16-year-old boy who worked for Caldor, Inc. (defendant), a retail store, as a customer-service representative in the hardware department. Shortly after Bowden appeared for work on June 15, 1988, the store manager escorted Bowden to a small, windowless office in the store’s upper level. In the office were Hedrick and Hodum, loss-prevention personnel. Bowden was told he would not be leaving the room anytime soon, and Hodum stood behind Bowden to block Bowden’s egress from the office, while Hedrick sat in a desk in front of Bowden. Hedrick accused Bowden of stealing money and merchandise from the store, which Bowden denied. Bowden then stood to leave the room. Hedrick told Bowden to sit back down or they would help him sit down. Hedrick interrogated Bowden for over an hour. Bowden asked to call his parents, but when he tried, Hedrick told him to put the damn phone down or he would help him do it. Bowden was paged over the store system several times, but Hedrick and Hodum would not let him respond. Finally, Hedrick gave Bowden a blank voluntary-statement form and told him to write a statement admitting to stealing. Hedrick told Bowden that if he signed the statement, paid restitution, and did not involve his parents, then the store would not contact the police. Bowden complied, with Hedrick dictating the details of the statement. Bowden was finally allowed to leave over four hours later, well after the store closed. Bowden told his mother, and the next day his mother went with him back to Caldor. The mother spoke with two store managers, one of whom called Bowden, “you people, you n_____ boy,” and told Bowden he was going to “burn for this.” When Bowden and his mother left, one store manager followed them to their car and seized Bowden’s arm, escorting him back into the store, where he handcuffed Bowden in public view and called the police. Bowden filed a claim against Caldor for intentional infliction of emotional distress (IIED), among other claims. At trial, Bowden testified that he was hurt a lot, ashamed, and distraught; he suffered from sadness, insecurity, and confusion; he felt bad about himself; and he had a different outlook after the incident. Bowden was able to continue his regular school and sport activities. Bowden saw a psychologist one time but did not continue due to his schedule, and the psychologist did not testify at trial. The jury awarded Bowden $25,000 for his IIED claim, but the judge granted judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), holding that Bowden did not suffer from sufficiently severe emotional distress to support an IIED claim. Bowden appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Chasanow, J.)

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