Plastic Surgeon Loses Defamation Case Against Patient

A patient unhappy with the results of her plastic surgery created a website about her experiences.  Her surgeon sued her for defamation, infliction of emotional distress, etc.  The patient moved to dismiss, lost, and appealed the case to the California Court of Appeals (Third Appellate District).

This is how the Court describes the alleged defamatory statements: "[Dr.] Sykes alleges that [patient] Gilbert’s Web site defamed him in four different ways: (1) presenting misleading before and after facial photographs in that the after photos were taken after ‘additional and significant cosmetic surgery’ performed by others; (2) falsely indicating that Sykes recommended and performed procedures that Gilbert did not need or want; (3) misstating ‘the content of communications’ relating to the procedures he performed; and (4) falsely suggesting that Sykes was compensated for procedures ‘under the table.’"

The Court held that Sykes had not met his burden of proving that the statements were defamatory.  The opinion carefully disects each statement and discusses the failure to Sykes to meet his burden of proof as to each.  To be sure, the opinion is based on California law, but to those readers from Tennessee (and other states with an undeveloped body of defamation law) it is very informative.

The case is  Gilbert v. Sykes,  C050766 (Jan. 26, 2007). Read the opinion here.