Big Town Nursing Home, Inc. v. Newman

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Big Town Nursing Home, Inc. v. Newman
Court Court of Civil Appeals of Texas
Citation 461 S.W.2d 195
Date decided 1970

Facts

Plaintiff Newman was a retired 87 year old printer. His nephew took him to defendant’s nursing home to which he signed admission papers and was admitted. The papers provided that the plaintiff “will not be forced to remain in the nursing home against his will for any length of time.” One day he decided he wanted to leave and telephoned a taxi, to which the defendant’s employee advised him that he could not use the phone or have any visitors unless the manager knew them. He was then forcibly locked up in Wing 3 of the home, and tried to escape multiple times but was brought back each time against his will and taped into a “restraint chair.”

Procedural History

Judgment for plaintiff for actual and exemplary damages and appeal by defendant.

Issues

Whether defendant imposed false imprisonment on the plaintiff without adequate legal justification.

Holding

The court of appeals found that the amount of damages was excessive and offered plaintiff a remittitur. Plaintiff agreed to the remittitur and judgment was affirmed.

Reasons

Defendant acted in the utter disregard of plaintiff’s legal rights, and thus falsely imprisoned the plaintiff. Therefore defendant is compelled to respond in exemplary damages because the act causing actual damages was a wrongful act done intentionally in violation of the plaintiff’s rights.