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Doctor denied more damages from medical association

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 17, 2013

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A federal court has rejected a physician’s request for additional damages against the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons related to his claim that the association published an unfavorable article about him.

California orthopedic surgeon Steven Graboff, MD, sued the AAOS after it suspended him for allegedly giving improper expert witness testimony in a medical negligence case. His claims included publication in a false light, defamation and interference with prospective contractual relations.

In May 2012, a jury said the society falsely portrayed Dr. Graboff in a publication that detailed his discipline. He was awarded $196,000. The AAOS appealed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which upheld the award in March.

After trial, Dr. Graboff filed another action against the association seeking declaratory relief monetary damages. The doctor said the AAOS was acting with “continued tortious conduct” because it would not remove from its website the offending article.

In its May 3 opinion, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled that Dr. Graboff received his legal remedy for the false light claim when the jury awarded him $196,000 in damages. Thus, under Pennsylvania law, the plaintiff seeks impermissible injunctive relief for a false light claim, judges said. The court said it cannot order the association to remove the article from its website (link).

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