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“Qualified Privilege” from Defamation Applies to Credible Reports

In the case of Alford v. Ohio Dept. of Rehab. & Corr., 2022-Ohio-4833, the Court of Claims held that a correctional facility was entitled to qualified immunity from defamation claims when the facility relied upon credible conduct reports.

In this case, an inmate argued that the inmate was damaged based upon alleged defamatory statements contained in conduct reports and, therefore, the correctional facility must be liable for damages arising from such defamatory statements as the facility knew or should have known that such reports contained false information. In response, the correctional facility argued that it enjoyed a “qualified privilege” from liability as the information in the conduct reports were credible. The court agreed with the correctional facility.

In support of its decision, the court found the testimony of the individuals who authored the conduct reports to be reliable. Specifically, the court explained that:

Both [individuals] wrote their reports based on what they saw with their own eyes. It does not appear to the Court that either [individual] knew that the reports they wrote were false or that they wrote the reports with reckless disregard for the truth. Accordingly, the conduct reports are subject to a qualified privilege, and Plaintiff has not shown — by clear and convincing evidence — actual malice on the part of either [individual].

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always-changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.


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