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Ruszala v. Walt Disney World Co.

United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida
132 F. Supp. 2d 1347 (M.D. Fla. 2000)


Facts

Bill Ruszala (plaintiff) worked at Walt Disney World Co. (Disney) (defendant). Disney called the county sheriff’s office of Orange County, Florida to report that Ruszala may have been stealing from the company. Disney security investigators Philip McNab and Dennis Ramos (defendant) interrogated Ruszala, who confessed. Corporal Robert Stephens arrived and informed Ruszala of his rights. Stephens stopped the interrogation when Ruszala asked for an attorney and arrested Ruszala for employee theft. Ruszala sued Walt Disney, Ramos, and Orange County Sheriff Kevin Beary for various claims related to the incident, including false arrest and civil rights claims against Beary pursuant to 42 U.S. Code § 1983. Ruszala claimed Beary was liable based solely on the fact that Stephens did not have personal knowledge of the facts creating probable cause and instead relied on the word of Disney employees. Beary’s lawyer sent Ruszala’s lawyer, Scott Sterling, two letters asking that Beary be removed from the suit and warning that Beary would seek to recover his costs in defending the frivolous claim. Ruszala admitted in deposition that probable cause existed for the arrest. Beary moved for summary judgment, which was granted. The district court then gave Ruszala and Sterling two days to show cause why they should not have to pay Beary’s costs and attorney’s fees. Ruszala did not object to the imposition of costs.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Glazebrook, 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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