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Dillard Department Stores, Inc. v. Silva

148 S.W.3d 370 (2004)

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Dillard Department Stores, Inc. v. Silva

Texas Supreme Court

148 S.W.3d 370 (2004)

Facts

When Lyndon Silva (plaintiff) went to a Dillard’s department store to exchange three shirts received as gifts, a cosmetics counter employee directed him to another department. On the way, Silva examined other merchandise and made three additional purchases. When a sale associate suspected Silva of shoplifting, a security guard stopped Silva and found the three shirts with no receipt in his shopping bag. Silva claimed he had a receipt and asked the guard to go with him to his car to look for it. Instead, the guard handcuffed Silva, escorted him to and detained him in an office, then turned him over to police. Silva was acquitted of any criminal wrongdoing and sued Dillard’s Department Stores, Inc. (Dillard’s) (defendant) for false imprisonment. The jury awarded Silva over $13,000 in actual damages, plus $50,000 in punitive damages based on a finding that Dillard’s acted with malice. The court of appeals affirmed the awards. Dillard’s subsequently appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, arguing that the shopkeeper’s privilege gave Dillard’s the right to detain Silva, precluding his recovery for false imprisonment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Per curiam)

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