False Arrest in real estate dispute. Defense verdict. Stanislaus County.


Home buyer thinks seller is stripping the property of fixtures, calls police.  Police say seller is just collecting belongings, and arrest home buyer when he becomes belligerent.


The Case

  • Case Name: Roni Roberts v. City of Turlock, David Shaw
  • Court and Case Number: Stanislaus County Superior Court / 2006727
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, December 10, 2015
  • Date Action was Filed: Friday, October 10, 2014
  • Type of Case: False Arrest/Imprisonment
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Timothy Salter
  • Plaintiffs:
    Roni Roberts
  • Defendants:
    David Shaw
    City of Turlock
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: Defense verdict.
  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 7 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 35 minutes.
  • Jury Polls: 12-0 on all causes of action (Bane Act, False Imprisonment, Battery, IIED).

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Kerr & Wagstaffe LLP by Kevin Clune and Ivo Labar, San Francisco.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Arata Swingle Sodhi & Van Egmond by Brad Swingle and Ameet Birring, Modesto.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    Paul Tunison, landlord/tenant.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    Don Cameron, police practices, Martinez.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff purchased a foreclosed home in Turlock, CA. There was a dispute as to whether the prior owner had vacated the property. Sgt. David Shaw of the Turlock Police Department was called to the scene.

    Plaintiff claimed the prior owner was in the home stripping fixtures from the property and the officers would not stop the conduct. Sgt. Shaw advised plaintiff that the prior owner was not committing a crime and was, instead, removing her personal belongings. Plaintiff allegedly made threats to kick the prior owners out and began to walk towards the property.

    Sgt. Shaw advised him not to enter and, when plaintiff ignored the officer, he was arrested for a violation of Penal Code Section 148(a) - resisting, obstructing or delaying an officer in the performance of his duties.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiff contended that Sgt. Shaw did not have probable cause to arrest him. Plaintiff also claimed that Sgt. Shaw violated his civil rights by improperly applying the handcuffs and by using coercive tactics to effect the arrest.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    Defendants contended that Sgt. Shaw had probable cause to arrest plaintiff for a violation of Penal Code Section 148(a). Defendants further contended that the use of force to effect the arrest was reasonable and that plaintiff's civil rights were not violated.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:

    Wrist injuries from the application of the handcuffs along with pain, suffering and damage to reputation for an unlawful arrest.

Special Damages

  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Medical: None
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Medical: None
  • Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: None
  • Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: None