False Imprisonment, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Claims Continue Against Bank

In Shkreli v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., No. 13 CIV. 5647 LGS, 2015 WL 1408840 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 27, 2015), plaintiff – a banker employed by defendant – asserted claims for false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress against his employer. The court held that plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to overcome summary judgment on both claims.

Here is plaintiff’s version of relevant events:

Guilfoyle [an investigator with the Bank’s Global Security and Investigations Department] took [plaintiff] to an empty conference room and closed the door completely. Guilfoyle directly accused him of opening several credit cards, making charges on them, not paying them and then filing fraudulent credit bureau reports. Plaintiff denied the allegations. Guilfoyle repeated his allegations. Guilfoyle told Plaintiff that he used to work for the NYPD and had arrested many people; that Plaintiff would be criminally prosecuted if he did not admit to the fraud; and that Plaintiff would lose his job and never again work in the “financial industry or any industry ever.”Guilfoyle screamed at Plaintiff, banged the door and repeatedly referred to his connections at the NYPD who could “make sure that [Plaintiff] pay[s] for what [he had] done.”Plaintiff, who suffers from a heart condition, began to experience chest pain. Plaintiff asked to leave so that he could take his medications, which were in his car, but Guilfoyle refused to let him leave. Guilfoyle questioned Plaintiff about the “supposed medication” Plaintiff needed and told Plaintiff he could not leave. Guilfoyle kept questioning Plaintiff despite his deteriorating condition and allowed Plaintiff to leave only when Plaintiff said that not taking his medications could result in a heart attack. As Plaintiff walked out, Guilfoyle followed him and repeatedly mentioned his NYPD contacts and instructed Plaintiff to confess. Plaintiff collapsed in the parking lot. The next day, Plaintiff visited a doctor who diagnosed him with PTSD as a result of his encounter with Guilfoyle.

The court held that since “Defendant has not argued that Plaintiff’s confinement was privileged, a reasonable jury could conclude that Plaintiff has established every element of the tort of false imprisonment”, and denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment on that claim.

The court also denied defendant’s motion for summary judgment on plaintiff’s intentional infliction of emotional distress claim, holding:

The success of Plaintiff’s IIED claim will ultimately turn on whether the jury believes Plaintiff, Defendant, or some combination of their narratives about what occurred during the questioning of Plaintiff, and whether it believes that Guilfoyle’s conduct was “beyond all possible bounds of decency, and to be regarded as atrocious, and utterly intolerable in a civilized community” as required for an IIED claim.

The court dismissed plaintiff’s claims for defamation, hostile work environment, and violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

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