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Plaintiff’s allegations doom false imprisonment claim

Where a woman alleged no facts to show law enforcement lacked probable cause to arrest her for providing false information, and her own allegations suggested her equivocal response gave the officers probable cause, her false imprisonment claim was dismissed.


Jariah Strozier brings this suit under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against Officer Shaun Chuyka and Officer Brandon Fretwell for excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment as well as accompanying state law claims of assault, battery, false imprisonment/false arrest and intentional infliction of emotional distress against the same defendants and the Town of Blacksburg under the doctrine of respondeat superior. Defendants moved to dismiss all claims other than the Fourth Amendment excessive force claim and battery claim against Chuyka.

Following the hearing on defendants’ motion to dismiss, the court issued an order granting the motion in part, denying the motion in part, and taking the motion under advisement with respect to plaintiff’s claim for false imprisonment/false arrest against Chuyka. This opinion addresses the false imprisonment/false arrest claim against Chuyka.


Plaintiff claims Chuyka committed the state torts of false imprisonment and false arrest “when he forcibly grabbed [plaintiff] by the arm, pulled her from the apartment, held her against the wall, detained her in handcuffs, and took her against her will to the Blacksburg Police Department, without her consent.” Plaintiff’s complaint provides, and does not challenge, the officers’ statements upon which their reasonable belief of criminal activity is based. As such, plaintiff has not alleged sufficient facts regarding a lack of legal justification.

By plaintiff’s own allegations, Chuyka detained plaintiff while Fretwell obtained a search warrant to confirm or dispel their suspicions that the apartment’s occupants had used illegal drugs and/or to discover if Antwon Strange was present. Moreover, Chuyka’s use of force during that detention does not make the detention unlawful.

Regarding detention, plaintiff alleges that once additional Blacksburg officers arrived on scene, police officers entered the apartment where they found Strange and arrested him. Chuyka subsequently arrested plaintiff for “providing false information to law enforcement.”

Plaintiff fails to state a claim for false arrest or false imprisonment because she alleged no facts to show Chuyka lacked probable cause to arrest her for providing false information to law enforcement. Revealingly, plaintiff does not allege how she responded when officers asked if Strange was in the apartment. Instead, plaintiff alleges that she was “confused” by what defendants were saying because “as far as she knew, [Strange] had not been barred from the property and she did not understand what was going on.” Therefore, plaintiff’s fails to plausibly allege that defendants lacked probable cause to believe that she was providing false information, and this claim will be dismissed.

Defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s false imprisonment/false arrest claim granted.

Strozier v. Town of Blacksburg, Case No. 7:21-cv-00072, Nov. 10, 2021. WDVA at Roanoke (Dillon). VLW 021-3-514. 7 pp.

VLW 021-3-514