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  1. #1
    JessiesGirl is offline Member
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    Revealing Doctor's Name OK?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Arizona

    I have what I consider to be a stupid question but it is important for me to find out the answer.

    I was involved in a medmal lawsuit back in 2006 (from a 2005 brain injury) and won. The doctor is still practicing medicine, albeit in another part of town now. I really want him to not be practicing anymore, as there is ANOTHER lawsuit in the works, and this time, somebody died. This doctor has also been in Tent City (we have Sherrif Joe Arpiao) due to extreme DUI about 6 weeks after my injury in 2005, and my now ex-husband and I believe this Dr. was drunk or somehow intoxicated during my procedure (which is irrelevant as I won the suit and he got punished for that DUI).

    My question is am I liable for a lawsuit for libel or slander or defamation (I'm sorry I don't know which one would qualify) if I blogged about my experience and named this Dr.'s name? I thought that if a person wrote or said something that was true that there was no liability.

    Please advise. My main goal is to make sure people know this particular doctor is dangerous. I contacted BOMEX to see if they would investigate my experience and this other fellow's too and maybe pull the license but I haven't heard anything from them since they sent me a confirmation that they would in fact investigate. It's only been a few months since I requested the investigation but I worry somebody else could get hurt or worse if this Dr. keeps practicing.

    Thank you,
    K
  2. #2
    quincy is offline Senior Member
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    First, libel is the written form of defamation (although it also applies to public broadcasting). Slander refers to spoken defamation.

    Whenever you write about identified or identifiable people, you run the risk of a lawsuit. Even if what you write is provably true or truly opinion (both forms of speech protected by our Constitution), you can still be sued by someone who feels your writings have defamed them. You would then be responsible for defending what you wrote, by showing its truth or demonstrating to the court that it is opinion.

    So, yes, you can write about your personal experiences with this doctor, and name this doctor, if what you write about this doctor and your experiences are truthful and accurate accounts of what you experienced - with no false embellishments or broad generalizations. You must be able to prove everything that you write is true (preferably with documentation to support these truths). And you can write your opinions about your experiences. Opinions, to avoid claims of libel or to support your defense in a libel action, must be neither provably true nor provably false. Opinions cannot in any way imply false facts.

    Nothing can prevent the doctor from suing you if he wants to. However, if you wish to avoid, as much as possible, the risks of this doctor suing you for libel and winning a suit against you, I recommend you show what you intend to write to an attorney for a careful review prior to publication.

    Defamation actions are EXTREMELY expensive to defend against, and the burden of proof would be on you to show your written words were truth or opinion.
  3. #3
    JessiesGirl is offline Member
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    Reply

    Ok. Thank you. Even though I won the medmal lawsuit (which proves he was incompetent in my care), and the settlement was paid for by this Dr.'s medmal insurance company - actually ex hubby and I went after his policy and his group's policy because we felt they "knew or should have known" there was some impairment issues with this doctor, and we succeeded in collecting from both policies, because the doctor fought and we couldn't actually prove he was impaired during my specific surgery, then it's not wise to publish his name? I don't want to be sued I just want him to stop working as I feel he is a danger to other patients. I don't know why he is still working since there is another suit against him right now for wrongful death, and if I were him, I'd just stop before somebody else was hurt/killed. Now, I do not know if the other person who died from his alleged error(s) suffered because this doctor was impaired but in my own case I believe he was.

    At this point, people have asked me who this doctor was, and it is actually in the Superior Court website case history page so it is published which is why I am not sure why I should be sued for something that has in my opinion been proven (the fact he is a bad doctor, not that he may have been impaired).

    I will not publish his name but if somebody asks me who it is I have a lesser chance of being sued if I do not mention the possible impairment, right?
  4. #4
    quincy is offline Senior Member
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    I think you misunderstood what I said, JessiesGirl.

    I am saying that you can print this doctor's name and truthfully and accurately report your experiences (as long as the terms of your MedMal settlement do not prohibit such a report).

    You must stick to FACTS only, however, or PURE opinion.

    For example, you can say you won a MedMal lawsuit against this doctor or that a MedMal lawsuit was settled in your favor. That is a fact and that is true. To further say, however, that winning this lawsuit proves that the doctor is, say, a danger to all patients he treats or is incompetent in all that he does, or whatever, goes beyond the scope of your experience and your knowledge. You can only say that winning the lawsuit proves that the doctor was shown to be incompetent IN YOUR CASE ONLY. To extend this and generalize is defamatory.

    And, even if your statement is couched as your "opinion" (ie. "I think this doctor is a danger to all patients"), if it implies false facts or a knowledge beyond your own experience (which this example does), then you can be sued for defamation.

    Nothing can prevent this doctor from suing you if you write about him, whether he has a legitimate and winnable action against you or not. What truth and opinion DOES DO is prevent the doctor from winning any defamation suit he could bring against you.
  5. #5
    JessiesGirl is offline Member
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    Ok. Got it. Yeah, I misunderstood. Thank you for clarifying.

    Have a good night,
    Kathy
  6. #6
    quincy is offline Senior Member
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    You're welcome, Kathy. You have a good night, too.

    (and, as an aside, I think if this doctor is horrible, posting about your experiences can help others avoid the same problems you had - just be careful about what you write )

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