Whatto do if being sued for reporting an intoxicated driver to the police?

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Whatto do if being sued for reporting an intoxicated driver to the police?

I recently waited on an intoxicated/verbally abusive customer at my retail job. I tried to get this person through my line as quickly as possible to avoid a “scene” for the other customers. When the customer left, a clerk helped them out to the parking lot. I told the clerk to get the make/model/plate number if the customer was driving – and they were. We called the police station (which is next door) and told them that an intoxicated person had just left. The police sent 3 squad cars to the customer’s home. We don’t know what transpired, but the customer is now going to sue.

Asked on November 19, 2010 under Criminal Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

As long as you did not lie (so that you committed defamation or filed a false report)  or in some other fashion misused the official proccess (e.g. called the police purely out of retaliation, when the fellow's condition did not warrant police intervention), there should be no cause of actionl. Someone is not liable for calling the police when there was a good faith belief of a crime and/or threat to safety. Assuming the individual was in such a state as to justify contacting the police, such as before he drove, you should be in good shape. That said, it's hard to stop someone from at least suing if they are determined to, and all suits need to be taken seriously. If sued, retain an attorney to help defend you--there's a good chance he or she can dispose of the suit fairly quickly--and also consider whether there are any countersuits, such as for filing frivolous litigation designed to harass, which you could bring in turn. (At the least, you may be able to get your attorney's fees.)


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