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Roberts v. Federal Express Corp.

842 S.W.2d 246 (1992)

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Roberts v. Federal Express Corp.

Tennessee Supreme Court

842 S.W.2d 246 (1992)

Facts

Richard Roberts (plaintiff) worked as a maintenance mechanic for Federal Express Corporation (FedEx) (defendant). When packages were damaged in the sorting process, Roberts sometimes picked up their spilled contents and turned in the items to FedEx. Roberts worked for FedEx for nine years, sometimes turning in items that were very valuable, such as diamond rings. On February 1, 1988, Roberts was experiencing severe back pain while at work. He took valium for his pain. Among the spilled contents of packages, Roberts discovered several valuable items, including a gold ring and silver spoon. He placed the items in his coat. Sleepy from the valium, Roberts retired to the break room and took a nap. At the end of Roberts’s shift, a coworker woke him and drove him to an exit. After removing his coat, Roberts exited through an electronic screening device without triggering an alarm. Roberts then remembered that he had placed the spilled items in his jacket, and informed a security guard that he had them. FedEx’s security detained Roberts for four hours, taking his statement. After releasing Roberts, FedEx suspended him. Nine days later, FedEx procured a warrant for Roberts’s arrest, charging him with grand larceny. Later, a grand jury declined to indict Roberts. Roberts sued FedEx for malicious prosecution. FedEx moved for summary judgment. The trial court granted FedEx’s motion, finding that FedEx had probable cause to instigate its criminal case against Roberts, and consequently could not be held liable for malicious prosecution. Roberts appealed, and the appeals court affirmed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Drowota, J.)

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