Man wrongly accused of bank robbery cannot sue bank and employees
Thomas Kabala sued JP Morgan Chase Bank and several employees after he was wrongly identified in a photo line-up as the perpetrator of a recent armed robbery. Criminal charges against him were dropped after he supplied multiple witnesses and an alibi, and Kabala sued the Defendants for defamation, "negligent identification," false arrest and under several other theories. The civil claim was dismissed by the trial court, however, and the dismissal was upheld in the Court of Appeals this week.
The Court noted that a person is not liable for "merely giving information to the police," even if it turns out that the information was mistaken and resulted in a false arrest. It drew a distinction between this case and other cases where a private security firm conducts and investigation, applies its judgment to the product of the investigation, and then [errantly] pursues criminal or civil penalties. The defamation-type claims were dismissed because there is qualified immunity for statements made in good faith under a duty to others, and attempted identification of a criminal perpetrator is the fulfillment of a public policy duty.