Q: Doctor with established expertise in field. Do I have grounds for a libel/slander case?
I am doctor with a reputation of expertise in my field. I received disciplinary action as a result of untrue statements made by another doctor in a position of unofficial authority over me. This person provided a false formal written statement to be placed in my personnel file in support of a corrective action plan she initiated. There is also evidence of email correspondence damaging to my reputation to uninvolved parties, parties outside of my company, and to my direct administrative and clinical supervisors. This person is also reported to have engaged in gossip, and reportedly solicited information about me in meetings with my subordinates in order to obtain what was referred to as “dirt on me.” I still work at this company. Do I have any preliminary grounds for a libel or slander case, and will this impact my employment with this company?
A: Based solely on the facts presented, yes, with a caveat. That caveat being that there may be some privilege within the profession or recognized in the law that may absolve her of such liability. It is best to speak with a local lawyer with whom you can divulge all of the facts. There are 5 basic elements to a defamation claim; 1. a false statement, 2. about the Plaintiff, 3. published to a third party, 4. damage to reputation, (5. depending on the public figure/matter of public concern analysis, either, strict liability, negligence, or what is called actual malice). This can be a very complicated area of the law to argue and defend. It is best to talk to a local lawyer who has some experience with this type of case.
Best of luck!
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