A San Antonio man’s claims of malicious prosecution, false imprisonment and the intentional infliction of emotional distress stemming from his December1997 arrest and brief incarceration in Chaffee County, Colo., failed to sway Austin’s 3rd Court of Appeals. The appeals court today reversed more than $250,000 in damages that a Comal County jury had awarded John Michael English against Colorado attorney Anthony L. Martinez. The 3rd Court’s opinion in Martinez v. English, written by Justice Bob Pemberton, provides the following factual background on the case: English claimed he and Martinez agreed to a “trade-out” in which English would restore Martinez’ Mercedes to pay off $3,500 of approximately $8,500 in legal fees. But when Martinez demanded the return of his car, English refused until the two men settled their account. Martinez contacted the district attorney’s office in Chaffee County, resulting in English’s arrest in Texas on charges of felony theft auto and fraud affecting sales. Prosecutors dropped the charges after English agreed to pay $5,000 to Martinez and to return the Mercedes. But English spent a couple of days in jail before the compromise was reached. The 3rd Court held that English could not prove malicious prosecution, because English could not prove the case ended in his favor. The intentional infliction of emotional distress claim would be
compensable through the malicious prosecution tort and not as a separate claim, the court held. As for the claim of false imprisonment, authorities arrested English on a valid warrant, according to the 3rd Court.
-- Mary Alice Robbins