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Labor & Employment Law

Employee Locked in Restroom in Office Prank Loses False Imprisonment Appeal

Posted Jan 26, 2012 10:58 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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An employee locked in a cruise boat restroom as part of an office prank has failed to persuade an appeals court that he deserved a new trial after jurors ruled against his false imprisonment claim.

Plaintiff Steven Slasinski claimed the trial court erred when it denied a motion for a new trial or judgment notwithstanding the verdict. In an unpublished opinion (PDF) dated Jan. 23, the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, the Ohio Employer’s Law Blog reports.

The opinion describes the events in July 2007 that spurred the suit. Slaskinski was a regional sales manager for Confirma Inc., a manufacturer of medical imaging devices, when he attended a work event on a dinner cruise in Bellevue, Wash. On his way to the restroom, Slaskinski saw Confirma employees lock a co-worker inside the lavatory with an external lock. A few moments later, they let the co-worker out.

Slaskinski fell victim to the same prank, but he was forced to endure it for a longer duration—he was left in the lavatory for 20 to 25 minutes. After some time, he tried calling for help, but the Confirma employees had left the boat. He didn’t free himself until the boat crew heard him kicking the door.

The appeals court found no abuse of discretion. “Certainly, this evidence could support a finding that Mr. Slasinski was confined against his will and/or that his confinement was not momentary or fleeting,” the opinion said. “That does not necessarily mean, however, that conclusions to the contrary are unreasonable.”

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