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Home E-Weekly April 17, 2018

Ex-Neuro Surgeon Sues Newspaper for Libel and Defamation

Published: April 17, 2018

Sterilizing Instruments NOT TRUE Ex surgeon says the Seattle Times ruined his reputation by falsely reporting he was paid by volume and conducted concurrent surgeries.

The former head of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, Wash., has filed a libel and defamation lawsuit against the Seattle Times for falsely reporting that he conducted concurrent surgeries and was paid by his surgical volume. The suit also names Charles Cobb, MD, as a defendant claiming he and another doctor at the institute conspired to ruin his reputation.

An investigation by the Times last year reported that as the institute moved to increase case volume under the leadership of Johnny B. Delashaw Jr., MD, employees faced retribution for reporting concerning practices and decreases in patient care that led to a rise in complications and patient deaths. Dr. Delashaw resigned from the institute 3 weeks after the report and the state suspended his license 2 months later. The suspension came after the Medical Quality Assurance Commission found evidence that Dr. Delashaw intimidated staff, which made them reluctant to question his practices putting patients at risk.

The lawsuit filed by Dr. Delashaw claims the Seattle Times falsely stated that he was paid by volume and ignored an eyewitness account that refutes he conducted concurrent surgeries. The suit also cites an email exchange between Dr. Cobb and another doctor at the institute in which they plot retribution against Dr. Delashaw for loss of income and authority under his leadership by inventing complaints that would worry the Institute's management. The 2 doctors and a forensic analyst hired by one of them claim the email exchange is fabricated.

The suit prohibits the Times and Dr. Cobb from making false statements about Dr. Delashaw and asks that the Times remove the false statements from its website. Dr. Delashaw never requested a correction to the original articles according to the Times.

The law firm representing Dr. Delashaw declined to comment on the suit. The Seattle Times and lawyers for Dr. Cobb did not respond to requests for comment.

JoEllen McBride, PhD

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