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Coblyn v. Kennedy’s, Inc.

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts
268 N.E.2d 860 (Mass. 1971)


Facts

Coblyn (plaintiff) was a seventy-year-old man shopping in the Kennedy’s, Inc. (Kennedy’s) (defendant) department store. Coblyn was wearing an ascot he had purchased from a different store. Coblyn purchased a sports coat from Kennedy’s. He put the ascot in the coat pocket while trying it on, and after purchasing it, took the coat downstairs to the store’s alterations department. There, Coblyn removed the ascot, put it back on, and proceeded to try to leave the store. Suddenly, Goss, an employee of Kennedy’s, confronted Coblyn about where he had purchased the ascot. Goss grabbed Coblyn by the arm in front of other people and told him he needed to go see the store’s manager. Coblyn agreed to accompany Goss back to the cashier’s counter. The two traveled up the stairs, and Coblyn began experiencing chest and back pains and had to stop several times. Upon reaching the counter, the cashier confirmed that the ascot did belong to Coblyn. However, Coblyn was so upset by the incident that he required attention from the store’s nurse and was later hospitalized. Coblyn brought suit against Kennedy’s for false imprisonment. A jury awarded Coblyn $12,500 in damages, and Kennedy’s appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Spiegel, J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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