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Reports to Local Law Enforcement May Be Shielded from Defamation Claims absent Malicious Intent

In the case of Campbell v. Licking Hts. Local School Dist., 2019-Ohio-2733, an Ohio appellate court held that an after-school program employee not liable for defamation as a result of providing information to local law enforcement for the purpose of crime prevention and/or detection.

In this case, the separated father of a student brought the student a gift during an after-school program. Because the student was visibly upset when seeing the father, the after-school program employees prevented the father from seeing the student during after-school programs on future occasions. On one of these occasions, the father was asked to leave several times and adamantly refused each request. As a result, one of the after-school program employees contacting local law enforcement to report the incident.

The father brought defamation claims against the after-school program and its employees for allegedly making false statements in the police report. An Ohio appellate court found that Ohio law has routinely provided “that private citizens are qualifiedly privileged to give information to proper governmental authorities for the purpose of crime prevention or detection.” Campbell at ¶ 31. Therefore, the Ohio appellate court determined that – absent a showing of actual malice – the employees were entitled to the qualified privilege as to the defamation claims.

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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