A brain surgeon, whom the Miami Herald describes as a “high-profile doctor at” the University of Miami, is being sued for defamation of character by an alleged former paramour.
According to reports, because of complaints lodged by the doctor (who we’ll call “Jason”), a woman (who we’ll call “Daisy”) allegedly became the subject of a “be-on-the-lookout” flyer distributed to “officials” on a Florida campus.
Daisy insists the flyers were “vicious, defamatory, baseless and untrue attacks” that “severely limited her ability to earn a living.” So, she filed a defamation lawsuit.
Who Will Win This Defamation of Character Lawsuit?
At the time of this writing, few details about this doctor defamation case have found their way online. As such, it’s difficult to prognosticate about its eventual outcome. That said, let’s take a minute to talk about what constitutes defamation of character under U.S. law.
The Four Pillar of Slander and Libel
Established case law and the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution make winning a stateside defamation (slander if spoken, libel if written) lawsuit difficult. At the very least, to win a slander or libel lawsuit in the States, plaintiffs must prove the four pillars of defamation.
- Falsity: Pure opinion and truth are acceptable forms of legal speech. So, to win a defamation of character lawsuit, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant was, in some way, responsible for the distribution of false, unprivileged information.
- Harm: To win a slander or libel lawsuit, it’s not enough to only prove that the defendant made a false statement of fact. Plaintiffs usually have to demonstrate that the false statement of fact caused them either reputational or material harm. The exception to this rule is defamation per se cases where the harm is inherent (go here to read more about defamation of character per se – in the sidebar.)
- Identity: Some defamation lawsuits are lost because plaintiffs can’t prove that the defendant was referencing them in the contested statement.
- Negligence: The final thing plaintiffs must prove to win a defamation lawsuit is either negligence or actual malice. U.S. slander and libel law differentiate between “public figures” and “private figures.” Private figures only have to prove the defendant was negligent in making the statement, whereas public figures must prove actual malice. To learn more about why, click here and here.
Are You Dealing With A Doctor Defamation Situation?
Are you a medical professional whose reputation setback? Are you being accused of defamation by a medical professional? Our attorneys have served on both the plaintiff and defendant sides of doctor defamation lawsuits. An AV-rated practice, we enjoy a successful track record and have helped countless medical professionals with various reputation attacks that affect their careers. Contact Kelly Warner today to begin the conversation.
Lambiet, J. (2015, June 28). Jilted ex of former UM surgeon Bruno Gallo sues for defamation. Retrieved July 24, 2015, from http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainment/ent-columns-blogs/jose-lambiet/article25705117.html