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Surgeon Fights "Butcher" Slur in Defamation Lawsuit

A chiropractor allegedly badmouthed the orthopod to a patient planning surgery.

Published: August 7, 2014

Dr. Howard Freedberg, MDChicagoland orthopedic surgeon Howard Freedberg, MD, has slapped chiropractor Pat Calcagno, DC, with a defamation lawsuit, accusing the back doc of calling him a "butcher" who's performing unnecessary surgeries to pay for a messy divorce. The suit seeks more than $50,000 in damages.

According to court documents, Dr. Calcagno talked to an injured high school football player in August 2013 about his upcoming knee surgery. When the 16-year-old shared that Dr. Freedberg would be performing the procedure, Dr. Calcagno allegedly questioned Dr. Freedberg's skills, claimed the surgeon scheduled the surgery because he needed money to cover the breakup of his marriage and told the boy to seek a second opinion before being operated on by "the butcher."

Court documents note Dr. Calcagno also suggested that undergoing care at DuPage County, Ill.-based Olympia Chiropractic and Physical Therapy, which he founded in 1997, would lead to a faster return to football action.

The teen was surprised by the comments, telling the chiropractor that Dr. Freedberg was a well-known surgeon. Dr. Calcagno reportedly responded that the orthopedic surgeon "takes pictures with famous people," but isn't well regarded in his field. The teen relayed the conversation to his parents, who alerted Dr. Freedberg.

"Dr. Freedberg is an incredibly accomplished surgeon and a leading member of the Illinois medical community," says his attorney, Lance Northcutt. "His skill as a surgeon and reputation as a doctor took a lifetime to build."

Mr. Northcutt says his client failed to obtain a retraction of the comments, adding, "This case was filed in response to an outright attack on his good name which was false and unjustified."

Dr. Calcagno did not return a call seeking comment. Dr. Freedberg — who refers to himself on his web page as "The Knee Expert" — reportedly performed the surgery on the teen as planned.

Daniel Cook

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