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BSPH Is Pleased To Announce That The Fifth District Court Of Appeals Affirmed The Granting Of Summary Judgment In Favor Of A Physician In A Defamation Action

Several BSPH Attorneys worked as a team to ensure that the Fifth District Court of Appeals would uphold the trial court's granting of summary judgment in favor of a physician in a defamation action.

Plaintiff, Addie L. O'Bryant, alleged that she suffered emotional injuries after a physician confronted her in a hospital examination room about being addicted to prescription pain medications and being a drug dealer. Plaintiff alleged that several people in the hospital heard these alleged defamatory statements including her husband, Timothy O'Bryant, who was in the examination room.

The evidence established that no one other than Plaintiff's husband heard these alleged defamatory statements. The evidence also proved that Plaintiff was seeking and taking prescription pain medications in excess of what she was prescribed by her treating physicians. Plaintiff admitted that she gave her husband several of her pain medications. The physician denied making defamatory or improper statements.

The Fifth District, in case No. 2010CA0071, held that summary judgment in this defamation case was warranted because the physician had a conditional privilege - a good faith interest in communication with Plaintiff as to her obvious excessive misuse of narcotic medication. The Court also held that the physician did not exceed the scope of his privilege or act with malice.