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Tort Law - Abuse of legal procedure or process - False arrest or imprisonment - Defences - Lawful authority - Arrest by private citizen

Thursday, September 08, 2016 @ 8:00 PM  

Action by Mann for damages for false imprisonment and personal injuries in relation to an incident at a Canadian Tire store in Toronto. Mann claimed he was threatened with death by a staff member after a security alarm sounded as Mann exited the store. He started filming and claimed he was forced to remain in the store while the police were called. He claimed further threats were made because he refused to stop filming and refused to delete the video he had recorded. Mann called a friend during his detention in the store, who advised him to play “chicken” with the staff who were preventing his exit, by slowing walking toward the exit. Mann claimed one staff member sought to block his exit with his foot and arm, but that he was able to leave the store. As he walked away, Mann turned to see two men running from the direction of the store. In fear they were chasing him to carry out their threats, Mann accidentally hit his head on a set of pipes nearby and sustained long-lasting injuries, including impaired concentration, headaches, insomnia, shoulder and back pain, indigestion and stomach pain. The video Mann took did not reveal that any threats were made or any force was used to detain Mann in the store. The security video showed Mann being treated calmly and professionally by staff who detained him out of concern that he was filming in the store. Police were called by the staff to verify that the filming was not illegal, after which Mann was permitted to leave. Canadian Tire moved for summary judgment to dismiss the false imprisonment claim based on shopkeeper’s privilege, and to dismiss the damages claim as too remote.

HELD: Action allowed in part. Mann was falsely imprisoned for 13 minutes and was entitled to damages on this basis, but his claim for damages for the injuries he sustained outside the store was summarily dismissed as too remote. Shopkeeper’s privilege was a defence at law, but was not available to Canadian Tire because the purpose of Mann’s detention was to stop him from filming, not to prevent him from stealing. Mann lacked credibility in his claim that he was threatened. His panicked behaviour outside the store where he had been detained for a few moments, while being treated courteously, was exceptional and the damages he sustained were not foreseeable.