PLS 300 (2): Introduction to Law and Civil Procedure
Eilers v. Coy
2 F. Supp. 1093 (D. Minn. 1984)
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MacLAUGHLIN, District Judge.
The plaintiff in this case, William Eilers, has moved the Court to enter a directed verdict against the defendants on his claims that the defendants falsely imprisoned him.
The evidence in this case has established the following facts. The plaintiff William Eilers was abducted from outside a clinic in Winona, MN in the early afternoon of Monday, August 16, 1982 by his parents and relatives and by the defendant deprogrammers who had been hired by the parents of the plaintiff. The plaintiff was 24 years old.
The plaintiff was held at the Tau Center for 5½ days and was the subject of the defendants’ attempts to deprogram him. Shortly after his arrival at the Tau Center (and after a violent struggle with his captors), the plaintiff was handcuffed to a bed. He remained handcuffed to the bed for at least the first two days of his confinement. During this initial period, he was allowed out of the room only to use the bathroom and was heavily guarded during those times. On one occasion, the plaintiff dashed down the hall in an attempt to escape, but was forcibly restrained and taken back to the room.
The defendants and the plaintiff’s relatives had agreed in advance of the abduction that the plaintiff would be kept at Tau Center for one week (regardless of whether the plaintiff consented to their actions). At no time during the week was the plaintiff free to leave the Tau Center, nor at any time reasonable means of escape were available to him. Three of the eight people hired by the parents were designated “security men”. These individuals (described by witnesses as at least six feet tall and weighing over 200 lbs) guarded the exits on the floor at all times.
On the evening of Saturday, August 21, 1982 as the plaintiff was leaving the Tau Center to be transported to Iowa City, IA for further deprogramming, he took advantage of his first opportunity to escape and jumped from the car in which he was riding. Local residents (attracted by the plaintiff’s calls for help) assisted the plaintiff in making his escape and the police were summoned.
The evidence has also shown that within three weeks before the abduction occurred, the plaintiff’s relatives had contacted authorities in Trempealeau County, WI in an attempt to have the plaintiff civilly committed. Family members have testified that they believe the plaintiff was suicidal because of a letter he had written to his grandmother before joining the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ in which he wrote that demons were attacking his mind and telling him to kill himself rather than go to the Lord. Joyce Peterson (a psychiatric social worker) interviewed the plaintiff in person on July 26, 1982. After interviewing the plaintiff and consulting with the Trempealeau County Attorney, Peterson informed the plaintiff he showed no signs of being a danger to himself or to others. The defendants in this case were aware of that information at the time they abducted and held the plaintiff.
 In considering the plaintiff’s motion for a directed verdict, the Court is required to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the defendants and to resolve all conflicts in the evidence in the defendants’ favor like Dace v. ACF Industries, Ind., 722 F.2d 374, 375 (8th Cir. 1983). A directed verdict motion should be granted only when reasonable jurors could not differ as to the conclusions to be drawn from the evidence.
 The plaintiff’s first claim is that the defendants’ conduct in...