Government Code Section 821.6 - Example Case

In Gillan v. City of San Marino (2007) 147 Cal.App.4th 1033, the police arrested the plaintiff, a high school basketball coach, for sexual assault, and issued a press release setting forth the victim's allegations and solicited responses from potential additional victims. The arrest was determined to be without probable cause. Gillan sued for false arrest, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. As to the latter two causes of action, this Court's Division Three concluded that issuance of the press release was absolutely privileged pursuant to Government Code section 821.6. The court stated: "Regardless of whether those statements were reasonable and appropriate, on the one hand, or made maliciously as part of a baseless threatened prosecution, on the other hand, we conclude . . . that the individual defendants are immune from liability for defamation or intentional infliction of emotional distress based on those statements pursuant to Government Code section 821.6. the city also therefore is immune from liability on those counts arising from the acts of the individual defendants. Citing Gov. Code, 815.2, subd. (b)." (Gillan, supra, at p. 1050.)