William Whirl (plaintiff) was arrested on suspicion of felony theft by the City of Houston police and confined to jail. Two days later, Whirl was transferred to the county jail. While in the county jail, Whirl was deprived of the use of his artificial leg and officially charged with burglary and theft. Two months later, the charges against Whirl were dismissed by a trial judge. Ordinarily, the dismissal of charges and other trial court decisions were relayed to C.V. (Buster) Kern (defendant), the county Sheriff who managed the county jail, among other duties. However, Kern later claimed that he had never received notice that Whirl’s charges had been dismissed. Consequently, Whirl remained in the county jail for nearly nine months after the dismissal of the criminal charges. After Whirl was released from the jail he filed a civil action against Kern alleging false imprisonment. At the close of the trial evidence, Whirl moved for a directed verdict. The trial court denied Whirl’s motion and, instead, instructed the jury on the impact of negligence, contributory negligence, and proximate cause on a claim of false imprisonment. The jury held for Kern. Whirl appealed.