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A Principal’s Responsibility For The Actions Of Their Agent

Karen is shopping at Big Mart. She has with her an umbrella which is the same brand Big Mart carries. When a Big Mart employee, Steve, sees her leave with the umbrella without going through the checkout lane, he asks her to come back into the store. Steve says that he thinks Karen is shoplifting the umbrella. Karen tells him that she has had the umbrella for years and shows him marks of wear and tear. Steve apologizes and tells Karen she is free to go. Can Karen successfully sue for false imprisonment or defamation?

Karen cannot successfully sue for false imprisonment because as per the information in this case, the employee simply asks her to come back to the store so as to be able to clarify the misunderstanding. As an employee of Big Mart, Steve had the right to inquire about the originality of the umbrella. This is because he is supposed to protect the store from shoplifting. There is no defamation or imprisonment just a small misunderstanding that is cleared up without so much hustle to both parties.

From what you have learned about the relationship between a principal and an agent, analyze whether Steve or Big Mart could be liable because of Steve’s actions?

Steve is an employee of Big Mart and is expected to always be looking out for the best interest of the store a sue against him cannot hold however against the store it can hold. This is because an agent is expected to act for the interest of the employer (Rogers, 2012). As for the facts of the case, there is a clear reason as to why Karen had to be asked back into the store to answer a few questions; the fact that she walked into a store with one of their product means that when she is leaving she was bound to answer some questions about it. It was just a mere procedure to ensure that there is caution.

Karen was not suspected of shoplifting entirely, what Steve did was simply an act of precaution to ensure that there are minimal potential and actual shoplifting incidences at Big Mart.


Rogers, S. (2012). Essentials of Business Law. San Diego: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.

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