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CAN YOU SUE CPS worker for Slander?

Sweet Home, OR |

I live in a very small town in Oregon where everyone makes up accusations for fun. My husband was accused of Hurting his granddaughter. CPS investigated and found that allegations were unfounded and closed the case. A year later friends of ours had CPS called on them, neighbor thought the kids were left alone. CPS showed up and seen my youngest son there playing and told them to keep our family away and gave the lady details. Her case closed as unfounded. Well she stated she would go to court with us for what the worker had said to her. Then another worker was on another assignment here in this small town and again brought my husbands name up and details on the case. Let me stress, they filed court documents they have the case closed as unfounded. Is it worth for my Husband to SUE?

It just upsetting that a year later after the case has been Proved unfounded, that the agency is ALLOWED to spread "rumors" OR give details on a closed case that they closed for unfounded proof. As for the "EMOTIONAL". We work and live in this SMALL town. Less than 1000 people. This is a charter attack on their part. It hurts us at our job and our children. I don't feel that my husband has to explain to away rumors every time CSP comes into town. I understand their job and have some respect for what they do. We worked with them on the false allegation. And they did a thorough investigation, I have the papers to show the depth they went. But I do feel they are over stepping their Authority. What if any protection Do we have in order to be protected. Especially my children? There job is to protect children and to HELP Familys. How are they Helping any child or family if they are part of that problem?

Attorney Answers 1

  1. No, for the following reasons:

    1) Truth is an absolute defense to a defamation case; and a good-faith belief that a statement was true can be as well. If the CPS worker had reason to believe that their statements might be true, then they would not be liable for defamation.

    2) No lawsuit can win unless you can show the nature and extent of your damages, in a legally cognizable way. "Emotional abuse" does not count. You must show that you suffered a specific harm, directly caused by the defendant's actions and not by any intervening factors. (Some kinds of false statements can be considered 'defamation per se,' and can be inferred to have caused harm without a specific showing; but you still have to show the extent of damages in a way a court can redress.)

    3) Government agents are generally immune from lawsuits for actions undertaken in good faith in the course of their duties. Oregon's Tort Claims Act does allow for an exception, if you give notice to the agency or municipality you wish to sue within 180 days of the incident - after that, if you haven't given notice, you're permanently barred from suit - but there is still a sovereign immunity claim to be asserted.

    4) If your goal is to have people stop saying bad things about you, then suing them is likely counterproductive. People have this notion that suing someone will be this glorious redemptive process, where their every injury will be avenged and all their feelings validated. This belief is staggeringly wrong. Lawsuits are intensely unpleasant. They force the parties to live through whatever injuries they originally suffered, for months or years. You have to answer tons of difficult questions, over and over again, and if you change your story even a bit, you can be sunk. They rarely go perfectly - the law often produces results that one side or another considers to be unjust, for technical reasons - or just because "justice" is a pretty subjective concept. The other side has every motive, and every right, to attack your honesty, your conduct, and your motives. And, of course, you need to shell out a fairly large amount of money, most of the time. This is true even if your lawyer is working for a contingent fee, where they don't get paid if they win. And it's certainly true if you lose, and you have to pay the other side's attorney fees, which can be huge. In defamation cases in particular, because truth is a defense, the other side has the incentive to argue that the statement really was true - and even if it wasn't, it'll be repeated thousands to times.

    If CPS shows up again, consult with an attorney at once. Otherwise, do your best to move on.

    Please read the following notice: <br> <br> Jay Bodzin is licensed to practice law in the State of Oregon and the Federal District of Oregon, and cannot give advice about the laws of other jurisdictions. All comments on this site are intended for informational purposes only, and are not intended to constitute legal advice, create an attorney-client relationship, or solicit business. No posts or comments on this site are in any way confidential. Each case is unique. Information not contained in these posts may create significant exceptions to the advice provided in any response. You are advised to have counsel at all stages of any legal proceeding, and to speak with your own lawyer in private to get advice about your specific situation. <br> <br>

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