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Lattimore v. Petsmart, Inc.

United States District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon Division

March 9, 2015

PETSMART, INC., Defendant.


MARC T. TREADWELL, District Judge.

Defendant PetSmart, Inc. filed a motion to dismiss or, in the alternative, for a more definite statement on December 19, 2014. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff Tamelia Lattimore failed to respond to the motion within the time provided by the Local Rules. See M.D. Ga. L.R. 6.3 and 7.2. On February 9, 2015, the Court ordered the Plaintiff to show cause why the Defendant's motion to dismiss should not be granted within 14 days. (Doc. 6). The time to respond to the Court's order has now passed, and the Plaintiff has failed to respond. For the following reasons, the Defendant's motion to dismiss is GRANTED.


Plaintiff Tamelia Lattimore was employed as a lead cashier for Defendant PetSmart in Macon, Georgia. (Doc. 2-1, ¶¶ 2, 3). On December 19, 2013, the Plaintiff was accused of stealing a one hundred dollar bill on November 29, 2013. (Doc. 2-1, ¶ 5). She was taken to the store manager's office and questioned for more than 30 minutes by PetSmart's district manager and loss prevention officer. (Doc. 2-1, ¶ 6). According to the Plaintiff, she was "made to believe that she would lose her job if she did not confess to stealing the one hundred dollar bill" and further "believed that the interrogation and detainment would not end unless she signed a confession." (Doc. 2-1, ¶ 7). She wrote a confession at the loss prevention officer's direction. (Doc. 2-1, ¶ 8). As a result, the store manager terminated the Plaintiff's employment. (Doc. 2-1, ¶ 9). The Plaintiff alleges she suffered "mental stress" as a result of the PetSmart officials' conduct. (Doc. 2-1, ¶ 10).

The Plaintiff has brought claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, and false arrest against the Defendant. She is also seeking punitive damages. The Defendant has moved to dismiss the complaint pursuant to Rule 12(b)(6) because the Plaintiff's allegations are insufficient to state a claim or, alternatively, for the Court to order the Plaintiff to set forth a more definite statement of her claims pursuant to Rule 12(e).


A. Motion to Dismiss Standard

To avoid dismissal pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint must contain sufficient factual matter to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.'" Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). "At the motion to dismiss stage, all well-pleaded facts are accepted as true, and the reasonable inferences therefrom are construed in the light most favorable to the plaintiff." Garfield v. NDC Health Corp., 466 F.3d 1255, 1261 (11th Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). However, "where the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has alleged-but it has not show[n]'-that the pleader is entitled to relief.'" Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)). "[C]onclusory allegations, unwarranted deductions of facts or legal conclusions masquerading as facts will not prevent dismissal." Oxford Asset Mgmt., Ltd. v. Jaharis, 297 F.3d 1182, 1188 (11th Cir. 2002). The complaint must "give the defendant fair notice of what the... claim is and the grounds upon which it rests." Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted). Where there are dispositive issues of law, a court may dismiss a claim regardless of the alleged facts. Marshall Cnty. Bd. of Educ. v. Marshall Cnty. Gas Dist., 992 F.2d 1171, 1174 (11th Cir. 1993).

B. Plaintiff's Claims

1. False Arrest/False Imprisonment

Georgia law recognizes three torts relating to allegedly wrongful detainment: "(1) false imprisonment, which is unlawful' detention without judicial process, or without the involvement of a judge at any point (O.C.G.A. § 51-7-20); (2) false or malicious arrest, which is detention under process of law' (O.C.G.A. § 51-7-1); and (3) malicious prosecution, which is detention with judicial process followed by prosecution (O.C.G.A. § 51-7-40)." Ferrell v. Mikula, 295 Ga.App. 326, 329, 672 S.E.2d 7, 10 (2008). Because the Plaintiff has not alleged she was arrested pursuant to a warrant, she cannot assert a claim for false or malicious arrest.[2] See id. Thus, to the extent the complaint attempts to assert a claim for false or malicious arrest, that claim is dismissed.

"False imprisonment is the unlawful detention of the person of another, for any length of time, whereby such person is deprived of [her] personal liberty." O.C.G.A. § 51-7-20.

A detention need not consist of physical restraint, but may arise out of words, acts, gestures, or the like, which induce a reasonable apprehension that force will be used if plaintiff does not submit; and it is sufficient if they operate upon the will of the person threatened, and result in a reasonable fear of personal difficulty or personal injuries.

Mitchell v. Lowe's Home Ctrs., Inc., 234 Ga.App. 339, 340-41, 506 S.E.2d 381, 383-84 (1998). However, "[t]he threat of being terminated from at-will employment cannot constitute the basis of a false imprisonment claim." Shannon v. Office Max N. Am., Inc., 291 Ga.App. 834, 836, 662 S.E.2d 885, 888 (2008) (footnote omitted); see also Miraliakbari v. Pennicooke, 254 Ga.App. 156, 161, 561 S.E.2d 483, 488-89 (2002) ("It is true that the exercise of dominion over someone's property may serve as an exercise of dominion over that ...

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