The Guide is an invaluable online tool for litigation and transactional attorneys. The Guide provides for more than 70 common law causes of action:

- Each action’s elements;
- The most recent state and federal cases that cite the actions’ elements;
- The applicable statute of limitations for each action; and
- Defenses to each cause of action.
- AND, The Guide is updated annually.

FREE – No credit card or payment required. Testimonials

False Imprisonment

1 Elements and Case Citations

  1. The defendant nonconsensually and intentionally confined the plaintiff;
  2. The defendant did not have a lawful privilege to confine the plaintiff; and
  3. The plaintiff was confined for an appreciable period of time, however brief.

Fermino v. Fedco, Inc., 7 Cal. 4th 701, 715 (1994) (observing “[t]hat length of time can be as brief as 15 minutes”).

“Restraint may be effectuated by means of physical force . . ., threat of force or of arrest . . ., confinement by physical barriers . . ., or by means of any other form of unreasonable duress.”  Fermino v. Fedco, Inc., 7 Cal. 4th 701, 715 (1994); see also Scofield v. Critical Air Medical, 45 Cal. App. 4th 990, 1002 (1996) (“it is clear that force or the threat of force are not the only means by which the tort of false imprisonment can be achieved. Fraud or deceit or any unreasonable duress are alternative methods of accomplishing the tort.”).

“The only mental state required to be shown to prove false imprisonment is the intent to confine, or to create a similar intrusion. . . . [and] does not entail an intent or motive to cause harm.”  Fermino v. Fedco, Inc., 7 Cal. 4th 701, 716 (1994).


Supreme Court of California: Hagberg v. California Federal Bank, 32 Cal. 4th 350, 372-73 (2004).

California 1st Dist.:  Hamburg v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 116 Cal. App. 4th 497, 503-04 (2004); Easton v. Sutter Coast Hosp., 80 Cal. App. 4th 485, 496 (2000).

California 2d Dist.: Shoyoye v. County of Los Angeles, 203 Cal. App. 4th 947, 962 (2012).

California 3d Dist.: Ogulin v. Jeffries, 121 Cal. App. 2d 211, 216-17 (1953); Stallings v. Foster, 119 Cal. App. 2d 614, 619 (1953).

California 4th Dist.:  Johnson v. Ralphs Grocery Co., 204 Cal. App. 4th 1097, 1104 (2012).

California 5th Dist:  North American Building Maintenance, Inc. v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co., 137 Cal. App. 4th 627, 640  (2006) (citing to elements as set forth in Judicial Council of Cal. Civ. Jury Instns. (2006) CACI No. 1400).

California 6th Dist.:  Snyder v. Evangelical Orthodox Church, 216 Cal. App. 3d 297, 303 (1989).


United States Court of Appeal for the 9th Circuit: Young v. County of Los Angeles, 655 F.3d 1156, 1169 (9th Cir. 2011).

Central DistrictCook v. Torres, No. CV 13-2030 JLS (SS), 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158568, at *28 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 10, 2013).

Eastern District: Schmidt v. United States, No. 2:09-cv-0660 LKK GGH PS, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144028, at *22-23 (E.D. Cal. Oct. 2, 2013).

Northern District: Hesterberg v. United States, No. C-13-01265 JSC, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162509, at *13-14 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 13, 2013).

Southern District:  Martin v. Naval Crim. Investigative Serv., (“NCIS”), No. 10CV1879 WQH(MDD), 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107666, at *23-24 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 1, 2012).

2 Defenses to Claim for False Imprisonment

(1)   Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 431.30(b)(2) (pleading affirmative defenses), and other standard defenses.  See Chapter 1 for all defenses.

(2)   Statute of Limitations: Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 340(c) (one year).

(3)   Victim: “False Imprisonment is personal to the victim.”  Parents cannot recover for the imprisonment of their children. Scofield v. Critical Air Medical, 45 Cal. App. 4th 990, 999 n.5 (1996).

(4)   Probable Cause: “California law. . . protects a law enforcement officer from liability for false arrest or false imprisonment where the officer, acting within the scope of his or her authority, either (1) effects a lawful arrest or (2) has reasonable cause to believe the arrest is lawful.”  Cervantes v. United States, 330 F.3d 1186, 1188 (9th Cir. 2003); see also Forest v. City of Fort Bragg, 520 Fed. Appx. 616, 617 (9th Cir. 2013) (“the existence of probable cause is a complete defense” to a state-law false imprisonment claim).

(5)   Storekeeper’s Probable Cause:  “A storekeeper, ‘on probable cause to believe a theft has been committed, may detain the suspected person for a reasonable time, to conduct an investigation in a reasonable manner.’ . . .  The presence or absence of probable cause is a question of law for the court and not a jury question.”  King v. Andersen, 242 Cal. App. 2d 606, 609 (1966).

(6)   Judicial Process: Court-issued imprisonment pursuant to a commitment which is valid on its face is not false imprisonment.  Lincoln v. Didak, 162 Cal. App. 2d 625, 629 (1958).

(7)   Privilege for Protection of Endangered Adult:  Pursuant to the Elder Abuse and Civil Protection Act, Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 15600 et seq., “a local law enforcement officer [may] take an endangered adult into temporary emergency protective custody when ‘no other option is available to mitigate the circumstances of that adult.’”  Easton v. Sutter Coast Hosp., 80 Cal. App. 4th 485, 496 (2000); see Cal. Wel. & Inst. Code § 15703(a) (2013).

(8)   Fourth Amendment Standard:  “Court should look to federal cases interpreting the Fourth Amendment of the United State Constitution in determining whether a false imprisonment occurred.”  Hesterberg v. United States, No. C-13-01265 JSC, 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162509, at *14 (N.D. Cal. Nov. 13, 2013).

(9) Absolute Privilege Under Cal. Civ. Code § 47:  Under Civil Code section 47 an absolute privilege attaches to publications made “[i]n any (1) legislative or (2) judicial proceeding, or (3) in any other official proceeding authorized by law, or (4) in the initiation or course of any other proceeding authorized by law and reviewable [by a mandate action].”  “[T]the privilege of section 47 applies to bar all tort actions, except for malicious prosecution, that are based upon a communication of the proper type.”  Hunsucker v. Sunnyvale Hilton Inn, 23 Cal. App. 4th 1498, 1502 (1994).