Seattle Times responds to ex-Swedish Health neurosurgeon's defamation lawsuit

The Seattle Times has asked a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed in April by Johnny B. Delashaw Jr., MD, the former chairman of the Swedish Neuroscience Institute in Seattle, alleging the newspaper knowingly reported false information about him, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Dr. Delashaw resigned from Swedish Health in March 2017, about three weeks after The Seattle Times published an investigation called "The Quantity of Care," which exposed concerns about Dr. Delashaw's patient care practices. Two months later, the state medical board suspended his medical license.

Dr. Delashaw filed a defamation suit against The Seattle Times, but Jessica Goldman, the newspaper's attorney, says the majority of his defamation claims do not meet the standard required to sue a news organization.

"Because of the inherently chilling effect this lawsuit has on the exercise of First Amendment rights, he was required to plead with specificity the precise statements in the article which he challenges, the basis for their alleged falsity, that those statements were 'of and concerning' him, and that they caused him damage," Ms. Goldman said in recently filed court documents, according to the report.

Ms. Goldman also asked the court to dismiss Dr. Delashaw's claims for tortious interference with an employer. She said those claims should be dismissed because Dr. Delashaw voluntarily resigned from his position at Swedish Health.

Dr. Delashaw's lawsuit also accuses Charles Cobbs, MD, of libel, defamation and conspiring with another physician to ruin Dr. Delashaw's reputation. Dr. Cobbs, who serves as the director of SNI's Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment, has not responded to the lawsuit.

Earlier this year, Dr. Delashaw sought to reinstate his medical license, and the Washington State Medical Commission has not yet reached a decision in the matter, according to the report.

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