Bonkowski v. Arlan’s Department Store Case Brief

Summary of Bonkowski v. Arlan’s Department Store, Ct. of App. Michigan, 1968

Facts: Mrs. Bonkowski and her husband were shopping at Arlan’s store in Saginaw. After making several purchases they left around 10 p.m. While walking across the parking lot a security guard stopped them claiming someone reported Mrs. Bonkowski had stolen some items within. The PL emptied her purse into her husband’s hands while the guard watched. She produced receipts for the items in her possession. Pl suffered numerous psychological impairments as a result.

Issue: Whether the privilege of reasonable belief justifying detention may extend to the one who has left the premises but is in the immediate vicinity of authorities?

Holding: Yes, if officer believed the PL had unlawfully taken goods.

Procedure: Jury returned a verdict for false arrest ($34,750). Reversed and remanded with instruction to jury.

Rule: A merchant possesses privilege to detain for reasonable investigation a person whom he reasonably believes to have taken a chattel unlawfully.

Ct. Rationale: The privilege should extend here b/c it is entirely reasonable for a merchant to detain a person for a reasonable investigation. The merchant may not be able to form the reasonable belief before the person leaves the premises, therefore on occasion the merchant may stop people after they have left the building.

PL A: PL denied stealing any items, an without any further proof should have been free to go. The guard continued to detain PL with minimal proof, and the pl suffered a great intrusion.

Def A: The PL was reportedly stealing items from the store. The guard could not ascertain who the alleged was until she was nearing her vehicle outside.

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