Appeals Court Overturns Practitioners’ $12M Award in Defamation Lawsuit
March 20, 2015 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care
An Arizona state court of appeals has overturned a $12 million award in a lawsuit brought by a physician and dentist team whose former patient published statements that allegedly defamed them and put them in a false light. The appeals court wrote that the award "shocks the conscience of this court" and found the plaintiffs offered insufficient evidence to justify such a large award. The jury was instructed that it could award actual damages for: (1) impairment of plaintiffs' reputation and standing in the community; (2) personal humiliation, mental anguish, and emotional distress; (3) financial damages to plaintiffs' business, trade, profession, or occupation; and (4) financial losses actually caused by any false and defamatory statement. The patient was unsatisfied with the results of cosmetic surgery and laser resurfacing that she received in 2007 and 2008. Both practitioners worked with the patient throughout 2007 but discontinued treatment because of the patient's "screaming and using profanity."