Michigan hospital sues 3 patient relatives over Facebook post: 8 things to know

The Kalkaska County Hospital Authority, the operator of Kalkaska (Mich.) Memorial Health Center, is suing three people over a Facebook post and picketing, claiming the moves caused defamation, tortious interference and an invasion of privacy, according to the Traverse City Record Eagle.

Here are eight things to know:

1. The lawsuit centers on the care of 94-year-old Eleanor Pound and the patient's family members expressing frustrations. It names three defendants — Carol Pound, Diane Pound and Aliza Morse. Carol Pound and Diane Pound are Eleanor Pound's daughters and Ms. Morse is Eleanor Pound's granddaughter.

2. Ms. Morse made a lengthy, public post on Facebook May 5 to express her frustrations with the hospital's care of her grandmother and how staff members treated her and the other family members. The frustrations included being forbidden from visiting their 94-year-old relative. The post has 1,200 shares and garnered nearly 600 comments.

3. Carol Pound picketed in front of the hospital, her signs expressing frustration about the facility and its policies.

4. The lawsuit claims that the three defendants verbally abused their family member, ignored dietary restrictions, withheld meals from her, instructed her not to take medications and verbally abused hospital employees. As a result, the hospital authority said it prohibited Eleanor Pound's relatives from visiting.

5. The hospital accuses the three women of business defamation, interfering with its ability to conduct business and false light invasion of privacy.

6. The lawsuit asks for Ms. Morse to delete the Facebook post and issue a public retraction. In addition, it calls for the family members to stop picketing with "critical messages."

7. "The issue is not minimizing publicity. The issue is patient safety, staff safety and the defamation of this very fine organization of care providers," Kalkaska Memorial administrator Kevin Rogols said.

8. In response to the lawsuit, Ms. Morse said, "I want the freedom to express my opinion in Kalkaska County without being subject to frivolous lawsuits," according to the Traverse City Record Eagle.

Editor's note: This article was updated June 5.

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