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Serpico v. Menard, Inc.
United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
927 F. Supp. 276 (1996)
Serpico (plaintiff) was 70 years old. He went shopping in a store run by Menard, Inc. (defendant). Serpico was buying pipe wrap and a nut for his employer; the employer intended to reimburse Serpico for the cost. Serpico got the nut and then went to find the pipe wrap. As he did so, Serpico put the nut, which cost 70 cents, in his pocket. Serpico found the pipe wrap and went to the register to pay. Serpico forgot about the nut in his pocket. As Serpico left the store, he was stopped by Menard security and detained in a closed room. Menard security demanded Serpico empty his pockets. Menard security refused to listen to Serpico’s explanation and called the police. The police officer tried to persuade Menard management that Serpico had made an honest mistake and that Menard should drop the matter. Serpico’s employer also called Menard management and explained that Serpico was very honest and was being reimbursed for his purchases, so he had no motive to steal. Nevertheless, Menard insisted on filing a police report and that Serpico be charged with shoplifting a 70-cent nut. Charges were filed against Serpico, and he had to retain a lawyer. Serpico’s lawyer asked Menard to drop the charges, but Menard refused, citing its policy to prosecute all shoplifting cases. On the day of the criminal trial, Serpico and his lawyer appeared but nobody from Menard appeared. The judge dismissed the case. Menard then sent Serpico a demand letter for $100 to settle all civil claims that Menard had against Serpico’s alleged attempted theft. Serpico ignored the letter. Menard then sent another letter to Serpico, threatening to sue Serpico for the alleged attempted theft. Instead, Serpico sued Menard for various causes of action, including false arrest and false imprisonment. Menard moved for a judgment on the pleadings.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Gettleman, J.)
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