Appeals court to hear Schnucks Market case

By Steve Gonzalez | Sep 25, 2008

The Fifth District Appellate Court will hear Paula Johnson's pro se appeal on Oct. 6, in Mt. Vernon.

Johnson is appealing Madison County Circuit Judge Andy Matoesian's Oct. 5, 2007 order that dismissed her false imprisonment suit with prejudice against Schnucks Market.

Johnson originally filed suit on Dec. 12, 2006, alleging her constitutional rights were violated.

Johnson of East St. Louis claims that in December 2002, she was seated inside a parked vehicle loaded with groceries on the Schnucks parking lot in Granite City.

She claims while she was in the car, she was approached by a Schnucks employee to look inside the vehicle.

Johnson claims the employee searched all 10 bags of groceries that were purchased at another store and after finding nothing there, took two black leather purses that were on the floor board of the passenger side of the car.

According to Johnson, the employee detained her and falsely and maliciously accused her of stealing bottles of aspirin found in one of the purses she had.

She claims Schnucks detained her without any probable cause and imprisoned her in a closed room on the second floor for an unreasonable amount of time restricting her freedom of movement.

Johnson claims Schnucks knew the aspirin did not come from their store since they do not even carry the brand of aspirin she bought at another store.

Johnson claims she suffered emotional distress, mental anguish and has incurred expenses for medical treatment.

Schnucks filed a motion to dismiss the suit in January 2007 alleging Johnson failed to bring her claim within the applicable statute of limitations for false imprisonment.

Beth Kamp Veath of Brown & James in Belleville represents Schnucks in the case.

Matoesian heard arguments on the motion to dismiss on Feb. 23, 2007, and allowed Johnson to amend her complaint making the motion moot.

In March 2007, Schnucks filed a new motion to dismiss Johnson's first amended complaint arguing she failed to comply with the form of pleadings.

Matoesian granted the motion on April 13, 2007, but gave Johnson 30 days to amend her complaint to amend her complaint.

Johnson did file a second amended complaint and Schnucks again filed a motion to dismiss similar to their last.

The grocery store argued the statute for pleadings requires "plain and concise statements of the cause of action."

Schnucks argued Johnson's complaint is a combination of narrative statements, legal definitions and random legal conclusions and that it contains no factual pleadings, but a collection of statements pertaining to constitutional rights.

They also argued Johnson included improper prayers for punitive damages.

Matoesian agreed entered his order dismissing the case with prejudice.

Johnson immediately filed a notice to appeal arguing Matoesian erred when reaching his decision.

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