FROM MERCER CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE DARREN W. PECKLER, JUDGE
ACTION NO. 13-CI-00445
FOR APPELLANT: Bradley Gutherie Harrodsburg, Kentucky.
FOR APPELLEE: Jeffery C. Mando Covington, Kentucky.
BEFORE: ACREE, CLAYTON, AND NICKELL, JUDGES.
Brown appeals the Mercer Circuit Court jury verdict and
judgment rejecting her claims of battery and false
imprisonment against Harrodsburg police officer, Thomas
Fournier. Finding no error, we affirm.
September 8, 2013, Officer Fournier was the first to respond
to a two-vehicle injury accident at the intersection of U.S.
127 and the U.S. 127 Bypass in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. The
collision totaled both vehicles. Soon, more first responders,
including police officers, firefighters, and emergency
medical personnel, were dispatched to the scene. By then,
Fournier had actively worked the scene by checking on the
parties involved in the accident, identifying and treating
injuries, interviewing witnesses, observing traffic, securing
the scene, and gathering information.
minutes after Fournier arrived, Haley Brown showed up. She
had received a text message from a friend who was one of the
accident victims. The friend told Brown of the wreck and
asked her to help with a ride and in collecting personal
belongings from the disabled vehicle in which the friend was
then happened between Brown and Officer Fournier would have
to be determined by a jury. Generally, Brown believed Officer
Fournier's conduct was both improper and tortious. She
filed a "citizen's complaint" with the
Harrodsburg Police Department against Officer Fournier. The
complaint initiated an internal investigation. Disciplinary
charges were referred against Officer Fournier, but,
following a lengthy due process hearing, the City Commission
found Officer Fournier not guilty on all charges.
then filed suit in Mercer Circuit Court against Officer
Fournierasserting a variety of
claims, including battery, false imprisonment, and punitive
damages. At trial, Brown and Fournier presented conflicting
testimony describing their interaction on the day of the
testified that, while she was speaking with her friends,
Officer Fournier began screaming at her to get off his
accident scene. Claiming not to realize that the officer was
addressing her, Brown continued her conversation. She
testified that Officer Fournier used profanity and a
demeaning tone and asked her to identify herself. He then
instructed her to go back to her car. Brown tried to explain
to Officer Fournier who she was and why she was there but,
according to Brown, he refused to listen. Brown testified
Officer Fournier then said if she "did not leave the
scene, [she] would be in the back of his vehicle."
said she turned from the scene in the direction of her own
vehicle and began trying to telephone her brother, a Mercer
County Deputy, who was also present at the scene. She further
testified that, while her hands were in front of her body and
as she was walking away, Officer Fournier grabbed her arms
and forcibly pulled them behind her back. She said Officer
Fournier had a tight hold on her arms such that it was not
possible for her to break free. At this moment, Brown's
brother intervened and asked Brown to return to her car.
Brown testified that Officer Fournier still had a grip on her
arms and, when her brother asked Brown to leave, Officer
Fournier urged her forward by pushing on her back.
left the scene. Upon arriving home, she discovered blood in
her bra. She said Officer Fournier's contact with her
caused a rip in a surgical incision under her breast when a
suture dislodged, resulting in permanent scarring.
Fournier's testimony differed. According to Officer
Fournier,  as Brown approached the
scene, he asked if she was a family member or otherwise
involved in the accident. Learning Brown was neither, Officer
Fournier asked her to leave. Brown refused. Officer Fournier
repeated his command several times, but Brown repeatedly
refused to leave. Officer Fournier described Brown as
belligerent and testified that she yelled at him and cursed
at him. He quoted her as saying such things as: "I'm
going to do what I want"; "You can't make me
leave"; and "I'm not leaving and you can't
make me leave." Officer Fournier informed Brown that if
she did not leave the scene, he was going to arrest her.
Brown responded, "For what?"
Fournier testified that, when Brown again refused to leave,
he placed his right hand on the back of her right wrist and
placed his left hand just above her right elbow in an effort
to escort her from the accident scene. Brown responded by
jerking out of his grip and drew back her fist, poised to
strike. Believing he was about to be assaulted, Officer
Fournier determined to place Brown under arrest but, at that
moment, Brown's brother intervened and directed Brown to
return to her vehicle. Brown complied.
Fournier denied using profanity when dealing with Brown. He
also denied grabbing Brown's arms or touching her in any
manner other than as previously described.
denied saying, "You can't make me leave, " and
denied drawing her fist back to hit Officer Fournier.
close of Brown's case, Officer Fournier moved for a
directed verdict on all of Brown's claims. The circuit
court denied the motion as to the tort claims, but sustained
Officer Fournier's motion to dismiss the claim for
punitive damages. The case was then submitted to the jury.
jury returned a verdict in favor of Officer Fournier. The
circuit court denied Brown's subsequent motion for a new
trial. Brown appealed, claiming the circuit court's
instructions to the jury were erroneous.
presents two general arguments for reversal and a new trial.
First, she argues the circuit court published erroneous and
prejudicial instructions to the jury regarding her battery
and false imprisonment claims against Officer Fournier.
Second, Brown contends the circuit court abused its
discretion when it granted a directed verdict in favor of
Officer Fournier as to Brown's claim for punitive
damages. We do not find Brown's arguments
Jury Instructions -Battery ...