Have you ever played one of those dinner party games where everyone has to answer an impossible question? It’s usually something like, “If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring one person and one book, who and what would they be?” Well, every so often a defamation lawsuit comes along of the same variety. A new doctor defamation lawsuit out of Oklahoma is one such case. On a social level, it’s difficult to label either the plaintiff or defendant as “the good guy.”
The Incident: A Union Worker, A Checkup & A Gun-Toting Doc
The defamation case started in 2010 when Mark Warren, a member of the Transport Union of America Local 514 and employee of American Airlines, was injured on the job. He was referred to Dr. Kovacs, one of the approved physicians under his union’s health insurance plan.
This is when things got interesting.
According to the doctor, Warren was unruly at his office, yelling about processing forms and refusing to calm down. As fate would have it, Dr. Kovacs is not only a medical professional, but he’s also a reserve police officer. So, when his new patient wouldn’t chill, Kovacs left the room and came back “with his badge on his belt and his duty weapon on his hip, locked in its holster.”
Warren, apparently, took the fire arm display as “a threat and an assault” and as such became very fearful. Undoubtedly, some sort of verbal conflict ensued and Warren eventually left the office. After the incident, American Airlines removed Dr. Kovacs from their list of authorized providers. The slight prompted him to file a defamation lawsuit, against both Mr. Warren and his union, for allegedly misrepresenting the situation, which damaged his practice.
What The Jury Decided In This Doctor Defamation Lawsuit
So, let’s review. An injured worker visits a new doctor for the first time, becomes frustrated by, what one can only assume, was a mountain of bureaucratic (but necessary) paperwork, and the attending physician pulls out a gun to calm him down. Like I said, there’s no clear winner here on the “golden rule” scale.
But the jury sided with the doctor and awarded him more than $442,000 in damages. Transport Workers Union of America Local 514 has to pay Kovacs $221,351 and Warren was ordered to pay the same. Apparently, the jury must have felt that the accusations of Warren and his union directly harmed Kovac’s business, because in U.S. defamation cases, in order for a plaintiff to win a lawsuit, they must prove that the statements in question were false and irreparably harmed an individual or company.
I must admit: I wonder if this case would have concluded differently in other states. To be honest, I can’t see this verdict coming out of a jury in one of the bigger coastal cities. But that’s what state rights are all about.
If you’ve been defamed and you’re looking for a defamation lawyer, get in touch. We’re an AV-rated law firm that caters to small- to medium-sized businesses in addition to individual cases. We look forward to speaking with you soon.