(CN) – A woman who told police that she saw a neighbor’s 2-year-old son drinking from a Bud Light can won a defamation claim against her in the Kentucky Court of Appeal. The court said the neighbor failed to prove that she acted in bad faith by reporting the suspected child abuse.
Anthony and Felicia Morgan live directly behind Gladys Bird, with a fence separating their properties.
Through the cracks in the fence, Bird observed the Morgans having a backyard barbecue. She said she saw their son, Colton, standing in the yard drinking from a Bud Light beer can.
A man allegedly came out of the house and yelled, “Where is my damn beer?” He then picked up Colton and spanked him, according to Bird.
Bird reported the incident to the Williamsburg police and to social services.
The boy was temporarily removed from the home, while the parents submitted to drug testing.
After passing and regaining custody of their son, the Morgans filed suit against Bird, the police, social services and the city, alleging civil rights violations, slander, libel, malicious prosecution and other charges.
The defendants are immune from the charges based on a state policy “giving great value to the societal benefits of protecting children at the risk of falsely accusing the parent,” Judge Lambert wrote.
“If we were to allow a single disagreement between parties to be the foundation of a bad faith excepting a party from immunity … we would be undermining the basic intent of the statute,” Lambert added. “The prompt investigation and replacement of the child at issue … was a well executed illustration of the [law’s] intent and framework.”