Media: Hospital May Pursue Claims against Video Makers for Trespass, but Not Defamation, False Association, or False Advertising, Says Pennsylvania Court
October 17, 2018 | Strategic Insights for Health System
A Pennsylvania court of appeals affirmed a lower court's ruling dismissing a hospital's claims against a video production company and several individuals, including a surgeon employed by the hospital, for false origin/false advertising pursuant to the federal Lanham Act (15 USC § 1125) and for defamation. However, the court reversed the trial court's dismissal of a trespass claim the hospital brought, concluding that while the claim may be worth "two peppercorns" in damages, the hospital pled sufficient facts that, if true, would sustain the claim it made against certain defendants for entering hospital-owned facilities without proper authorization.
The lawsuit stemmed from the actions of a plastic surgeon employed by the hospital. He entered into an agreement with a media representative to advise him on matters that included the development of a reality television show, Drastic Plastic, featuring the surgeon. According to the hospital, the show was intended to highlight the most salacious elements of the physician's practice at the hospital; the media producer, the hospital said, had characterized the surgeon as "The Vagician" because of his specialization in labiaplasty and vaginal reconstruction. The hospital claimed that it neither consented to nor...