Illinois Reaffirms that Statements Made to Law Enforcement Personnel Are Protected by an Absolute Privilege

In Morris v. Harvey Cycle and Camper, Inc., the court reaffirmed that Illinois absolutely protects statements made to law enforcement officials from claims of defamation.  The court noted that the majority of states afforded at most a qualified or conditional privilege to such statements  and that many jurisdictions had abandoned absolute privilege in favor of a conditional privilege, which would be lost in the event of a direct intent to injure or constitutional malice.   The court noted that most of the prior Illinois decisions affording an absolute privilege to statements made to police personnel were analogous to absolutely privileged statements made in the course of or preliminary to judicial proceedings.  In Morris, the facts suggested that the statements were made not to commence legal proceedings, but to use strong arm tactics by car dealer personnel to recover a car without refunding the plaintiff’s down payment.

The motivation for the making of the statement, however,  is irrelevant when an absolute privilege applies.  Therefore, the statements made to law enforcement could not form the basis of a defamation action and the claim was dismissed.

Leave a Reply

Post Navigation