I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today.
There is a cause of action for defamation of character when someone makes an untrue statement that damages your reputation. There are two primary challenges to bringing a lawsuit here.
- You have to prove that telling someone you called them an SOB made people think less of you. Telling your daughter you said it doesn't count, because she didn't believe them. So the basis for any cause of action would be making the statement to the manager, so you'll need them to prove that statement damaged his opinion of you. Since swearing and name-calling is sadly pretty commonplace in this world, you'd also have to establish that you have a reputation for not doing those things, for being better than people who do swear and call other people names.
- You have to prove damages. You can't claim damages from your daughter losing her job, because it was her reaction to the false statement that got her fired, not the fact that the statement was made (and the original defamer didn't say it to her). And you're not injured, legally, by your daughter losing her job. It's not considered a foreseeable damage from someone making a false statement against you. Defamation does carry punitive damages, so you could get a nominal amount, but the likelihood that damages would exceed even $100 and reimbursement of your filing fees is unfortunately very low.
Your daughter might have a claim for malicious interference with employment if she could establish that the teller set this whole thing up to get her fired. But she still has a causation issue there, because she didn't have to argue with the manager. She'd essentially have to prove that the teller knew how she was likely to react. That could be difficult unless she can somehow get him to admit it (preferably via email or text, so there's proof of it).
When there is a lawsuit pending, you have the ability to depose witnesses, which means calling them in and forcing them to answer questions about the case. It's doable, but complicated, when you don't know who you're suing. She'd have to file a lawsuit against "John Doe," get the information, then file a Motion to Amend the Complaint. A lawyer could subpoena any records of the incident from the bank before filing a lawsuit - but there's no way to know if the bank even made a written report or if the teller's identity would be revealed.
And all of that takes a lot of time and money for a case where you're not likely to recover very much. If you were to hire a lawyer, you can't make the other person pay for it. And a lot of lawyers won't take cases where the amount you pay them is going to be a lot more money than what you're likely to recover. I'm sorry.
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