On June 19, 2014, a Las Vegas hospital filed a defamation lawsuit in Nevada state court alleging that a Las Vegas medical malpractice lawyer defamed it when he implied during a news conference that the hospital had intentionally concealed or failed to diagnose a woman’s tuberculosis because the disclosure would spark a state investigation.
The Las Vegas medical malpractice lawyer held the May 13, 2014 news conference to announce the filing of a medical malpractice lawsuit by the husband of a 25-year-old woman who allegedly had tuberculosis symptoms while visiting her premature twin girls in the hospital during the summer of 2013. One of the babies died without being tested for tuberculosis, followed by the deaths of the woman and the other baby from tuberculosis.
The defamation lawsuit reportedly alleges that the plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawyer stated during the news conference, “There may have been a motivation to find a cause for her condition other than tuberculosis. If the cause was some other infection, they wouldn’t need the state government in there to investigate … A tuberculosis diagnosis invites oversight and opens up a can of worms,” which the hospital alleges in its defamation lawsuit refers to the hospital and “blatantly implies an intentional failure to or concealment of a diagnosis of tuberculosis. Such an allegation is false.”
In discussing the hospital’s defamation lawsuit, the hospital’s lawyer stated, “You step over the line when you accuse someone of intentionally misleading a state agency.” The defendant Nevada medical malpractice lawyer was reportedly surprised by the hospital’s defamation lawsuit, especially since he believed that the parties were discussing the settlement of their dispute.
The defamation lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and a declaration that the attorney’s statement during the May 2014 news conference was false.
An action for defamation (which includes the torts of libel and slander) generally requires proof of the following: a false statement purporting to be a fact regarding another person or entity; publication (communication) of the false statement to a third person; the person making the false statement intended or was negligent (in some states) in making the statement; and, harm was caused to the person or entity who was the subject of the false statement.
Statements made during court proceedings are generally protected speech and cannot be the basis for a defamation claim. However, lawyers must be careful outside of the courtroom when making statements regarding the cases in which they are involved because if the statements are false and harmful, the targets of the false statements may seek compensation for damages they suffered as a result of the false statements. Some false statements are considered so outrageous and harmful, such as falsely accusing someone as having a sexual disease, that the law presumes that the target of the statement has been damaged, without the need of the victim to prove harm from the false statement (which is called defamation per se ).
If you or a loved one may have been injured (or worse) as a result of medical negligence, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a local medical malpractice attorney in your U.S. state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice lawsuit, if appropriate.
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