McCarthy v. Manchester Police Dept.Annotate this Case
Plaintiff Scott McCarthy appealed a Superior Court decision to dismiss his defamation action against defendants, the Manchester Police Department (MPD) and MPD Sergeant Craig Rousseau, on grounds that municipal immunity barred his claim. William Socha was working on a construction site in Manchester. At around noon, Socha noticed a truck parked on the site and went to tell the driver to move the vehicle. As he approached, he saw that the man in the driver's seat had his pants down, exposing his genitalia. Socha also observed a young female in the truck's passenger seat. The passenger appeared to Socha to be about twelve years old and to have some kind of disability. Socha called the police, but, by the time an MPD officer arrived, the vehicle had left. Socha gave the officer a description of the truck, its license plate number, and a physical description of the driver. The police determined that the truck was registered to plaintiff, who resided in Allenstown. A short time later, a detective from the Allenstown Police Department observed the plaintiff arrive at his residence in a truck matching the description and license plate number Socha had provided. Plaintiff told the detective that he had been in Manchester around 12:30 p.m. that day to pick up a friend and her daughter. The MPD filed a complaint charging plaintiff with indecent exposure and lewdness, and arrested him pursuant to a warrant. The MPD had not identified the female passenger whom Socha had described. In an effort to identify her, Sgt. Rousseau posted an entry on the MPD blog, describing the incident and stating, in relevant part, that "[d]etectives of the MPD Juvenile Division now say that McCarthy, 41, was in fact the man who was exposing himself in the vehicle. McCarthy was subsequently arrested [and] charged with one count of indecent exposure." The entry then asked for information concerning the identity of the female passenger. No passenger was ever identified. On the day of plaintiff's criminal trial, Socha failed to come to court, and the State entered a nolle prosequi. Plaintiff subsequently brought this action against defendants, alleging that Rousseau's post on the MPD blog stating that plaintiff was "in fact" guilty of the crime was defamatory. Defendants moved to dismiss, arguing that they were immune from suits that were not authorized by RSA chapter 507-B. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed.