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Barkley v. McKeever Enterprises, Inc.

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc

February 24, 2015

DEBORAH BARKLEY, Appellant,
v.
MCKEEVER ENTERPRISES, INC. D/B/A PRICE CHOPPER, Respondent

Page 830

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF JACKSON COUNTY. The Honorable James F. Kanatzar, Judge.

Barkley was represented by Robert E. Gould and Frederick G. Thompson IV of Gould, Thompson & Bucher PC in Kansas City.

Price Chopper was represented by Jacqueline A. Cook and John G. Schultz of Franke Schultz & Mullen PC in Kansas City.

Paul C. Wilson, Judge. Russell, C.J., Breckenridge and Fischer, JJ., concur; Stith, J., concurs in part and dissents in part in separate opinion filed; Draper and Teitelman, JJ., concur in opinion of Stith, J. LAURA DENVIR STITH, JUDGE.

OPINION

Page 831

Paul C. Wilson, Judge

Deborah Barkley (" Barkley" ) sued McKeever Enterprises, Inc. (" Price Chopper" ), alleging various torts arising out of her 46-minute detention at Price Chopper for suspected shoplifting. At the close of the evidence, Barkley elected to submit only her claims for false imprisonment and battery to the jury. The jury found for Price Chopper on both claims. Barkley appeals, and the judgment is affirmed.

Background

On May 24, 2009, Barkley went to Price Chopper in Independence. While shopping, she took various items (e.g., notebooks, a book light, toothpaste, and batteries) from the shelves and placed them in a reusable shopping bag she carried next to her purse. In her other hand, Barkley carried other empty reusable shopping bags. Barkley's husband, who also went shopping with her, placed various items in a grocery cart. When they met to check out, Barkley's husband unloaded the cart onto the conveyor belt while Barkley walked past the register and handed the

Page 832

empty reusable bags to an employee for use in bagging their purchases. Barkley continued to carry the bag concealing her other items next to her purse. She made no effort to pay for the items in that bag, and they had not been scanned along with her husband's purchases. When the other items were paid for, Barkley headed for the exit.

Two loss prevention employees had been watching Barkley on Price Chopper's surveillance system. When they saw Barkley head for the exit without paying for the items in the bag next to her purse, they stopped her. They confiscated the bag containing the unpurchased items, escorted her to the store's security office, and told her she was being detained on suspicion of shoplifting. Barkley's husband waited for her in the nearby customer service area.

Inside the security office, Barkley and the two male loss prevention employees were joined by a female employee in accordance with Price Chopper's policy for female shoplifting suspects. Barkley was told to sit on a bench in the office while the employees searched her purse, itemized and photographed the merchandise Barkley had concealed in the reusable shopping bag, and began preparing their report. Approximately four minutes after Barkely was first detained, the employees summoned ...


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