Florida hospital CEO can sue CNN for defamation, appeals court rules

A defamation lawsuit brought against CNN by Davide Carbone, the former CEO of St. Mary's Hospital in West Palm Beach, Fla., can move forward, an appeals court has ruled, according to The Hill.

The lawsuit claims CNN ran a defamatory report in 2015 that resulted in Mr. Carbone losing his job.

The story in question "Secret deaths: CNN finds high surgical death rate for children at a Florida hospital," said mortality rates for pediatric procedures at St. Mary's were triple the national average.

Mr. Carbone claims CNN misrepresented the hospital's mortality rate of 12.5 percent for pediatric open-heart surgeries because it compared the rate to a 3.3 percent national average, which took into account the mortality rate for all surgeries.

In other words, CNN failed to account for risk-adjusted data that accompanies riskier surgeries, l such as open-heart, Mr. Carbone said.

After the CNN report, Mr. Carbone alleges that public backlash forced the hospital to close its pediatric cardiothoracic surgery program due to an inability to "build sustainable volume."

When the program closed, Mr. Carbone resigned from his post as CEO and filed the lawsuit.

The appellate court decision, written by Appeals Court Judge William Pryor, comes as another legal setback to CNN, which has been working to prevent the case from moving forward.

In February 2017, a lower court ruling from U.S. District Judge Orinda Evans said that Mr. Carbone’s allegations were "sufficient to establish that CNN was acting recklessly with regard to the accuracy of its report, i.e., with 'actual malice,'" The Hill reported.

Editor's note: This article was updated Dec. 18 at 12:00 p.m. 

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