Friday, September 30, 2011

Hospital in Libel Suit Against Duluth News Tribune : Newspaper, Heal Thyself

Duluth Canal Park LakewalkImage via WikipediaEarlier this month, according to a report by Hubbard Broadcasting's WDIO-TV Channel 10 ABC affiliate in Duluth, Minnesota, St. Luke's Hospital has filed a defamation suit against the Forum Communications Co.-owned Duluth News Tribune("DNT") over a series of articles concerning a neurosurgeon who worked at the hospital from 1997-2008.

The hospital's complaint alleges that a July 31, 2011, article headlined: "As Duluth Hospital reaped millions, surgeon racked up complaints," written by two DNT reporters, includes 15 defamatory statements attributed to a dozen sources that "intentionally and deliberately mislead(s) sources, quoted sources out of context, and purposefully avoided information that would contradict their preconceived story." The article was one of a series of articles the daily published in May and August regarding the former St. Luke's neurosurgeon Stefan Konasiewicz.

The plaintiff contends that sources in the DNT story knew or should have known that they were obligated to make written complaints if they were concerned about the neurosurgeon's performance and that state law would preclude the sources from airing those complaints in the newspaper. For its part, DNT Publisher Ken Browell is quoted in the WDIO-TV online story as standing by the paper's reporting on what he deemed a matter of public safety and concern.

St. Luke's Hospital is demanding a retraction and seeking damages of at least $50,000.
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