Thursday, December 08, 2016

Claiming absolute privileges and immunities as a defense in litigation


Claiming absolute privileges and immunities as a defense in litigation

The plaintiff in this Article 78 action, Crvelin, alleged that the Board of Education of City School District of City of Niagara Falls undertook an investigation and ultimately passed a resolution concluding that she had violated the residency policy and directed that the process to terminate Crvelin’s employment be commenced. Crvelin contended that the School District had defamed her and that as a result of the School District’s action she had suffered intentional infliction of emotional distress. 

In addition, Crvelin claimed that during the litigation of the proceeding, legal counsel for the School District made written statements in a memorandum of law submitted to the court that, according to Crvelin, were defamatory.

The School District, in its defense, claimed various absolute privileges and immunities.

Addressing the merits of plaintiff’s Article 78 complaint, the Appellate Division said:

1. “It is well settled that government officials are absolutely immune for discretionary acts carried out in the course of official duties and that immunity attaches ‘however erroneous or wrong [such conduct] may be, or however malicious even the motive which produced it.’”

2. “Statements made by government officials in the context of a quasi-judicial proceeding such as that at issue here are absolutely privileged and immunize the communicants from liability in a defamation action.” and

3. As the alleged defamatory statements made by the School District’s attorney were contained in a writing submitted to a court on behalf of the School District in the context of Crvelin's Article 78 proceeding “they are absolutely privileged.”

Crvelin v Board of Educ. of City Sch. Dist. of City of Niagara Falls, 2016 NY Slip Op 07783, Appellate Division, Fourth Department



Handbooks focusing on State and Municipal Public Personnel Law continue to be available for purchase via the links provided below:

The Discipline Book at http://thedisciplinebook.blogspot.com/

Challenging Adverse Personnel Decisions at http://nypplarchives.blogspot.com

The Disability Benefits E-book: at http://section207.blogspot.com/

Layoff, Preferred Lists at http://nylayoff.blogspot.com/

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