Father, son sue Florence County Sheriff's Office for false arrest

Hiral Gopaldas and his father Ranjit Gopaldas Kalabhai have filed a lawsuit for false arrest and malicious prosecution against the Florence County Sheriff's Office.

Both men were charged in the stabbing deaths of Punam Gopaldas, 31, and her mother, Vinaben Patel, 57, at their home at the Country Club of South Carolina in Florence County in June 2011.

Punam Gopaldas was the estranged wife of Hiral Gopaldas.

Charges against the men were dropped last July because of insufficient evidence to prosecute, according to court documents.

Gopaldas was jailed for 10 months and Kalabhai for 21 days before charges were dropped.

Their attorney Rose Mary Parham says the Florence County Sheriff's Office falsely arrested the men, and their prosecution was done with implied malice arising from the lack of probable cause.

The sheriff's office and its investigators made material omissions relating to probable cause in their application for a warrant, which mislead the magistrate, according to Parham.

The lawsuit adds the detectives failed to investigate exculpatory evidence prior to and after plaintiffs' arrests when it was obvious and reasonable to do so.

Parham says her clients suffered a loss of liberties, loss of contact with Gopaldas' young son, as well as humiliation, shame, emotional stress and incurred economic damages and attorney fees.

Gopaldas and Kalabhai are seeking compensatory damages in the appropriate amount, according to the lawsuit.

Captain Michael Nunn with the Florence County Sheriff's Office says they are unaware of the lawsuit and have yet to see it.

He says they will comment at the appropriate time.