Q: Hi, Animal services has just given my complaint records to the owners of the animal.
I would like to know if the owners of the animal i complained about, can sue me over the information i provided in my complaint? Everything in my complaint was true, concise and to the point. I am now very nervous about the situation.
A: Anyone can be sued for anything, for the cost of a filing fee. The question is whether a suit can be won. The type of claim that might be brought against you is for libel (written falsities) or slander (spoken falsities) that damaged the subject's reputation. If, as you have noted, spoke the truth, then such a suit would not be successful. If something in your words was factually false, then you have a defense of "absolute privilege." Absolute privilege, under Civil Code section 47(b), means that even if you knew that your communications to Animal Control were false, the subject cannot successfully sue you for libel or slander. (Hagberg v. California Federal Bank FSB). This is because we want people to be free to contact law enforcement in regards to suspected criminal activity without fear of having to defend themselves in court. In that event, you could still have potential liability under the concept of malicious prosecution, so you would not be completely immune from a lawsuit.
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