FROM THE BENTON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT. 46CV-14-193-2.
HONORABLE JOHN R. SCOTT, JUDGE.
Mosley, for appellant.
& Norwood, P.A., by: Doug Norwood and Alison Lee, for
DANIELSON, Associate Justice. Special Justice D. CHRIS
GARDNER concurs. BAKER and HART, JJ., dissent. WOOD, J., not
participating. JOSEPHINE LINKER HART, Justice, dissenting.
E. DANIELSON, Associate Justice
Travis Trammell filed this interlocutory appeal challenging
the order of the Benton County Circuit Court denying his
motion for summary judgment on the basis of immunity. This
court assumed jurisdiction of this case from the Arkansas
Court of Appeals pursuant to Arkansas Supreme Court Rule
1-2(b)(6) as it involves a statutory-interpretation issue. On
appeal, Officer Trammell asserts that undisputed proof
demonstrates no intent to commit the tort of false arrest or
false imprisonment, and, to the extent that the proof
demonstrates negligence, Officer Trammell is immune from suit
pursuant to Arkansas Code Annotated section 21-9-301 (Supp.
2015). He also argues that section 21-9-301 grants immunity
against all tort claims, including intentional torts, and
asks that we overrule all prior case law to the contrary. We
reverse and remand for the entry of an order consistent with
Officer Trammell is a police officer with the Bella Vista
Police Department. The record reflects that on May 14, 2012,
Officer Trammell received a report that shots had been fired
in the area known as the " Grosvenor Gravel Pits, an
area that is off-limits for shooting. While investigating the
area, Officer Trammell approached Appellee Linda Wright, her
co-worker, her daughter, and her daughter's friend.
Officer Trammell spoke to Wright and asked for her
driver's license, which she gave him. Upon running
Wright's identification, the Arkansas Crime Information
Center (" ACIC" ) showed that Wright had an
outstanding warrant for her arrest for failing to appear in
Elkins District Court in Washington County. ACIC indicated
the same name, date of birth, driver's license number and
picture belonging to Wright.
denied being the subject of the warrant. Officer Trammell
then returned to his car and called Washington County
dispatch on the radio and asked dispatch to confirm the
warrant. Dispatch confirmed that the warrant was valid.
Officer Trammell arrested Wright and transported her to the
Benton County Sheriff's Office, which held her until
Washington County Sheriff's Office could pick her up.
After arriving at the Washington County Sheriff's Office,
Wright bonded out of jail.
was ultimately cleared of wrongdoing. The warrant had been
issued against " Linda M. Wright," a person having
a different home address, date of birth, and driver's
license number than Wright. Officer Trammell testified in his
deposition that he never saw the warrant at the scene of the
arrest. It was not the police department's practice for
an officer to call the agency to have someone look at the
warrant and read the identifying information. The individual
who entered the warrant into the ACIC system assigned it to
Wright's name, driver's license number, date of
birth, and photo.
10, 2013, Wright filed a complaint against Officer Trammell
in his personal capacity, alleging that he committed the
state-law torts of false arrest and false imprisonment.
Officer Trammell filed his first motion for summary judgment,
which was denied by the circuit court because the court found
that a material fact existed as to whether Officer Trammell
exercised due diligence in arresting Wright and taking her
into custody. Officer Trammell appealed the circuit
court's denial to the Arkansas Court of Appeals. The
court of appeals found that it was uncertain that the circuit
court ruled on the immunity issue and dismissed the appeal
without prejudice for lack of a final, appealable order.
See Trammell v. Wright, 2014 Ark.App. 439,
439 S.W.3d 718. On remand, Officer Trammell moved for summary
judgment a second time, exclusively on the issue of immunity,
which the circuit court denied.
general rule, the denial of a motion for summary judgment is
neither reviewable nor appealable. See City of
Fayetteville v. Routine, 373 Ark. 318, 284 S.W.3d 10
(2008); Ark. River Educ. Servs. v. Modacure, 371
Ark. 466, 267 S.W.3d 595 (2007). However, that general rule
does not apply where the refusal to grant a summary-judgment
motion has the effect of determining that the appellant is
not entitled to immunity from suit, as the right of immunity
from suit is effectively lost if a case is permitted to go to
trial. See Romine, 373 Ark. 318, 284 S.W.3d
10; Modacure, 371 Ark. 466, 267 S.W.3d 595. The
issue of whether a party is immune from suit is purely a
question of law and is reviewed de novo. See
Romine, 373 Ark. 318, 284 S.W.3d 10 (citing
Smith v. Brt, 363 Ark. 126, 211 S.W.3d 485 (2005)).
appeal, Officer Trammell argues that he did not commit the
torts of false arrest or false imprisonment and that if the
proof does demonstrate negligence, he is entitled to immunity
pursuant to section 21-9-301. Wright asserts that the circuit
court was correct in denying immunity because Officer
Trammell's acts were not negligent, but intentional, and
officials are not immune from intentional acts. Specifically,
she argues that Officer Trammell committed the torts of false
arrest and false imprisonment by intentionally refusing to
verify the identifying information on the warrant. She
contends that if Officer Trammell had asked someone to look
at the face of the warrant, he would have known that she was
not the subject of the warrant and she would not have been
False arrest" is a name sometimes given to the tort more
generally known as " false imprisonment."
Headrick v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 293 Ark. 433,
435, 738 S.W.2d 418, 420 (1987) (citing W. Prosser & W.
Keeton, The Law of Torts 47 (5th ed. 1984)). False
imprisonment is the unlawful violation of the personal
liberty of another consisting of detention without sufficient
legal authority. See Grandjean v.
Grandjean, 315 Ark. 620, 869 S.W.2d 709 (1994);
Headrick, 293 Ark. 433, 738 S.W.2d 418; Moon v.
Sperry & Hutchinson Co., 250 Ark. 453, 465 S.W.2d
facts are undisputed. The actual warrant was not for Wright,
but for a different person with the same name. Officer
Trammell was not in possession of the actual warrant at the
time of the arrest, but followed the police department's
practice and relied on the information provided by ACIC. When
Wright stated that she was not the subject of the warrant,
Officer Trammell sought verification of that information from
dispatch in Washington County. All of the information that
Officer Trammell had in his possession, which was verified by
dispatch, indicated that Wright was the subject of the
warrant. Wright has provided no facts to support her argument
that Officer Trammell committed the intentional ...