A medical entrepreneur in Florida named Dr. Gary Kompothecras – owner of Physicians Group LLC — sued Bloomberg News, Allstate Insurance and three former patients. What’s the good doc claiming? Defamation of character and misappropriation of trade secrets.
Does Kompothecras have a shot at winning this case? Or, is this trade secret/defamation lawsuit simply an exercise in public relations litigation?
What Is The Genesis Of This Defamation/Trade Secrets Lawsuit? An Online Article, Of Course.
The hubbub started during the 2008 election when Bloomberg ran a story entitled “Fraud Probed with Romney’s Fundraiser Cited By Victims.” It questioned Kompothecras’ professional ethics. Why was the media outlet interested in the doctor and founder of 1-800-ASK-GARY – – a legal and medical referral service? Because Kompothecras was the co-chair of Mitt Romney’s Florida Finance Team.
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In a 9-page expose on Bloomberg.com, writer David Armstrong delved into the inner workings of Kompothecras’ professional referral and pain management empire. Like all investigative journalists, Armstrong sought comments from people associated with Dr. K. Unfortunately for Kompothecras, some of those people were unsatisfied patients.
In the eyes of Kompothecras, his detractors are nothing more than “extortionists” determined to ruin his reputation on account of his refused to comply with a $3 million request. In the words of the filing:
“The case arose after extortionists threatened Physicians Group and Dr. Gary Kompothecras that they would destroy their reputations unless they coughed up $3 million.”
“[The] extortionists conspired with Allstate, Bloomberg, and a writer to publish an outlandish hit piece maliciously asserting defamatory lies in order to damage Physicians Group and Dr. Kompothecras.”
“[Allstate planned] a surreptitious scheme to attack Physicians Group and Dr. Kompothecras as part of Allstate’s malicious quest to shutter Physicians Group and 1-800-ASK-GARY legal and medical referral network.”
Is This Lawsuit For PR Purposes Only?
Judging from available information, it appears the Bloomberg article hurt Kompothecras’ ventures — and one way to combat bad press is to launch a defamation lawsuit.
Be careful going that route, though, because it doesn’t always work. Public relations litigation has the potential to exacerbate an issue and the resulting damage. (See Tom Cruise’s debacle of a defamation lawsuit against Bauer Publishing.)
But on the flip-side, if you’ve got nothing to lose, then filing a very public lawsuit can sometimes be the unconventional marketing push you need to get back in the game.