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Fossen v. Clackamas County

Court of Appeals of Oregon

June 17, 2015

Kimberly FOSSEN, an individual, Plaintiff-Respondent,
CLACKAMAS COUNTY, municipal corporation, Defendant-Appellant

Argued and Submitted: February 10, 2015.

Page 1289

Clackamas County Circuit Court. CV11090107. Douglas V. Van Dyk, Judge.

Alexander Gordon, Assistant County Counsel, argued the cause for appellant. With him on the briefs was Stephen L. Madkour, Clackamas County Counsel.

John T. Devlin argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief was Rosenthal Greene & Devlin, P.C.

Before Ortega, Presiding Judge, and DeVore, Judge, and Garrett, Judge.


Page 1290

[271 Or.App. 844] GARRETT, J.

Believing plaintiff to be the target of a New York criminal investigation, Clackamas County sheriff's deputies cooperated with New York law enforcement officials in obtaining a New York warrant for plaintiff's arrest. They then arrested plaintiff and held her in the Clackamas County Jail for approximately 25 hours and released her after the determined that they had the wrong woman. Plaintiff brought claims against defendant for " False Arrest / False Imprisonment" and negligence. During a hearing on defendant's motion for summary judgment, the trial court ruled that plaintiff's false imprisonment claim could proceed under the theory that defendant unlawfully continued to detain plaintiff even after defendant determined that it had the wrong person. At trial, defendant moved for a directed verdict on both of plaintiff's claims, which the trial court denied. The jury awarded plaintiff $1,500 in economic damages and $100,000 in noneconomic damages.

Defendant appeals, raising six assignments of error. We reject the fifth and sixth assignments without written discussion. We write to address the first four assignments, all of which attack, on various grounds, the trial court's ruling that denied defendant's motion for a directed verdict and allowed plaintiff to submit her claims of " False Arrest / False Imprisonment" and negligence to the jury. We conclude that the trial court correctly allowed plaintiff's false imprisonment claim to go to the jury. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court's denial of defendant's directed verdict motion. Moreover, because plaintiff's false imprisonment claim and her negligence claim are simply alternate theories of liability, either of which is sufficient to support the damages award, our affirmance on the former claim obviates any need to consider defendant's arguments regarding the negligence claim.

The facts are not disputed. Plaintiff was arrested by Clackamas County sheriff's deputies on November 4, 2009, following an approximately week-long investigation that began when a detective from the New York City Police Department told the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office (CCSO) that plaintiff was a suspect in several New York [271 Or.App. 845] criminal cases. On the day of plaintiff's arrest, CCSO deputies were in communication with New York police. After receiving confirmation that a New York judge had signed an arrest warrant, CCSO deputies arrested plaintiff and took her to the county jail, where she was booked at 5:15 p.m.

During the booking process, plaintiff's fingerprints were taken. Those prints were subsequently sent to the Oregon State Police (OSP) so that they could be run through a database maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). At 11:11 p.m. that evening, the CCSO learned from the OSP that plaintiff's fingerprints did not match any fingerprints on file with either OSP or the FBI, nor did they match the fingerprints of the New York suspect (which were on file with the FBI). Plaintiff remained in the county jail overnight. On the morning of November 5, a CCSO deputy called OSP and was informed that the results indicated that, unlike the New York suspect, plaintiff had never been arrested. At 3:00 p.m. that day, plaintiff was arraigned on a fugitive warrant before Judge Robert Herndon. No one from the CCSO advised Judge Herndon or plaintiff's attorneys about the results of the fingerprint search. Judge Herndon set a bail hearing for the following day, November 6, at 3:00 p.m.

Later on the afternoon of November 5, a CCSO jail technician, Manley, sent a teletype message to the New York police that stated as follows: " It has been determined by fingerprints that this is not the same person that you have a warrant out for. She is being released on your hold." Plaintiff was released at 6:10 p.m. on November 5, nearly 25 hours after being ...

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