Do I have a case for defamation of character if I was wrongly accused of substance abuse by a fellow student at my college?
3 attorney answers
If you are/were under the age of 18, then all college personnel are mandatory reporters and must report to Child Protective Services any report of child abuse/endangerment. If you are 18 or over, there is no longr a public duty. However, some colleges have been found to be liable for negligent failure to invstigate whether a student is suicidal or not. Thus, colleges have added additional policies (all of which you agreed to abide by when you signed your Enrollment Contract with the College) to address such situations. These policies are sometimes detailed on the college website or in the Student handbook (often also on-line).
Presuming the tests show what you allege, if you can identify the Reporter of the information and detemine whether the Reporter intended to slander you or cause you harm, then you may have a claim for libel against that person. If the College negligently failed to verify the truth of the report (or otherwise failed to follow their policies), then you might have a breach of contract claim against the College.
You should talk to someone who does Education Law to find out more. I'm not sure if there is anyone volunteering to answer questions here on Avvo who is in that area of the law, but try the Find A Lawyer tab, or call your county bar association for a referral.
Once the tests come out, you can also talk to someone who does defamation cases. This sounds like one major pain, but I also think that it's likely that the school is required to follow up on reports like this because it doesn't want to see students come to any harm. In the event that you did actually have the issues that were reported, it could save your life, and eventually you would be grateful for their intervention. Good luck to you.
I have a private practice in Malvern, PA, and I welcome new clients. Contact me privately for further information. My answer to your question is not to be considered legal advice, just general information based on my knowledge and experience, and the fact that I answered your question does not create a lawyer-client relationship between us. That would have to commence more formally. Further information is at my website www.RabinLawOffices.com.
First if they want test they can pay for it including any evaluations. They may have a duty to follow up when they receive a complaint. Your lawsuit should be whoever filed the report if it is false. Hopefully they have deep pockets. See who else responds to this. I simply moved your question to the Education Law Section. Good Luck.
I am licensed to practice law only in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. My phone number is 215.439.7781. Therefore, my knowledge is based primarily on law in those two states and Federal legal concepts. My answering your question is offered only as a free courtesy to provide you with general non-specific information. It is intended to help you when you seek and find a local attorney licensed in your state. This answer does NOT create a client-attorney relationship nor create any expectation of confidentiality or privacy concerning your public post. My answer is based only on the limited facts/information that you have presented in your post. For any lawyer to give you full and reliable advice, would require at the least, full one-on-one dialogue(s) with questions and answers being exchanged and any evidence being presented. Online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional advice from an attorney licensed in your state regarding the particular facts and circumstances of each matter. Before taking any action or deciding to take no action, I recommend that you consult with a local attorney(s) of your choosing; either private or with a non-profit organization that helps individuals without the means for hiring a private attorney. Good luck in your search to find a legal solution to your situation.