Doctor Defamation: Surgeon v. Chiropractor
FWhen chiropractor Pat Calcagno chatted-up an injured high school football player at a game, he probably didn’t think it would result in a court appearance – but it just may. Why? Because during the ill-fated conversation, Calcagno mentioned orthopedic surgeon Dr. Howard Freedberg — and Calcagno wasn’t exactly complimentary. Long story short, Freedberg slapped Calcagno with a doctor defamation lawsuit.
Sideline Conversation That Led To Surgeon v. Chiropractor Slander Lawsuit
Chiropractor Pat Calcagno – founder of Olympia Chiropractic and Physical Therapy – was at a local football game when he spotted an injured player. Presumably, the crutches sparked Calcagno’s professional curiosity; so, he moseyed over to the infirmed teenager and inquired about his condition.
The pair chatted, and the teenager explained that Dr. Howard Freedberg was scheduled to operate on his leg in the coming days.
According to reports, that’s when:
“Calcagno told [the injured teenager] that Dr. Freedberg was ‘a butcher’ and that he should get a second opinion before being operated on by ‘the butcher.’ [Calcagno] further stated to [the teen] that the only reason that Dr. Freedberg wanted to perform surgery on him was that Dr. Freedberg was going through a difficult divorce and that he needed the money.”
If the claim is accurate, at this point in the exchange, Calcagno plugged his own sport therapy services, telling the teenager:
“he should instead be treated at Olympia if he wanted to return to the football field sooner.”
As a final swipe, the chiropractor allegedly tried to impugn the professional reputation of his rival surgeon, stabbing:
“Dr. Freedberg ‘takes pictures with famous people but isn’t recognized in his field.’ ”
Can The Surgeon Win This Doctor v. Doctor Defamation Lawsuit?
If the known facts are accurate, and the exchange between the teenager and Calcagno occurred exactly as detailed in the reports, then then Dr. Freedberg has a chance at winning this slander lawsuit.
What’s Working For The Surgeon In This Doctor Defamation Lawsuit (Assuming the facts presented in the claim are accurate):
- It could be successfully argued that Chiropractor Calcagno made provably false statements of fact about Dr. Freedberg (e.g., “performs unnecessary surgeries,” “only operating because of a difficult divorce”).
- The teenager is a solid witness to Calcagno’s statements.
- If Calcagno really did plug his physical therapy services, it speaks to his possible intention to purposefully harm Freedberg, a professional competitor, in service of his (Calcagno’s) own gain.
What’s Working For The Chiropractor In This Doctor Defamation Lawsuit
- His use of the word “butcher” in this context may be deemed opinion since the phrase (in this context) is conceivably colloquial, and a reasonable person COULD argue that it was Calcagno’s opinion of Freedberg’s techniques – much in the same way a vegan might consider a steak-eater a “murderer.”
- Team Calcagno could conceivably argue that their client’s recommendation to seek treatment at Olympia rather than go through surgery was also an opinion.
The outcome of this case will depend largely on the judge on whose desk this case lands. I’m predicting an appeal either way. Unless it gets settled soon – which is also a high probability in cases like this.
(Oh, and if you’re wondering: the injured teenager had his surgery, stuck with Dr. Freedberg, and is doing well.)
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