TO: Senior Attorney
FROM: Junior Attorney
RE: Possibility of Lawsuit against Dr. Marris for Slander (Oral Defamation)
The issue in this case pertains to whether Dr. Lee can successfully bring a case of slander against Dr. Marris under the New Yolk Law based on the statement made by Dr. Marris to Dr. Bird that Dr. Lee was dishonest.
The premises of this case hinges on the existence of elements of an actionable cause for spoken defamatory words that satisfies the legal procedure in such an issue. The court in Samuel Albert v. Salmen Loksen, Brooklyn Hospital and Karen Buono, 239 F. 3d 256, 99-7520 (2nd Cir. 2001) retained that the main inquiries into the immediate context of the spoken words needs to be substantial representations of factual information that is otherwise false and spoken with such level of fault that the act results in special harm. Determining the issues that could lead to trial however has to be based on weighty evidence for the jury to return any verdict for Dr. Lee. A defamation claim requires that the plaintiff produce evidence that a false statement was disclosed to third parties at a level of fault or negligent standard amounting to special harm or defamation.
The court in Dillon v. City of NY, 261A.D. 2d 34, 704 (N.Y.S. 1999) acknowledged that there must be an element of public ridule or damage to the friendly intercourse with society resulting from the claimed defamatory statements. The court also recoginized that the statements had to be in the public domain and as such without authorization such that the standard of negligence is so atrocious that it amounts to defamation. The court also established that the specific words spoken be stated outright in the complaint indicating the time, place and manner of statement. The defamation claim, must outline the particular context of the full statements made.
In Dillon v. City of New York, 261 A.D.2d 34 (1999) the court established that a triable case of defamation must exhibit the following elements; false statement, publication of the false statement without authorization, the statement should cause special harm, and the complaint should have the particular words particular complained of.
Dr. Lee seeks to accuse Dr. Marris of slander from making possibly professionally injurious statements to Dr. Baird who is a fellow supervisor to Dr. Marris. Dr. Lee alleges that Dr. Marris accused him of negligence of standard procedures prescribed in his line of work as a physician. Dr. Marris also attributes Dr. Lee’s conduct to amount to an act that endangered a patient’s life. Dr. Marris also allegedly accused Dr. Lee of dishonesty for the insinuation that the mistake was made by the nurse who handed the patient wrong medicine. In regards to the element of false statement, it is in the record, that Dr. Lee authorized the nurse to admnister antibiotic Z instead of anibiotic Y to the patient which endagered the patient’s life. Equally, it is in the record that Dr. Lee while reporting the misdoing to Dr. Marris said that the error was not his and blaimed the nurse for it. In this regard, the statement given by Dr. Marris regarding the proffesional conduct of Dr. Lee was factual and therefore no grounds for defamation. In regards to the inclusion of the particular words complained of , Dr. Lee does not specify what the rest of the statements was but he only quotes the conclusory remarks making the actual defamatory statements vague and primarily hearsay. On the element of publication and fault in the dissemination of possibly slanderous information, there is no evidence to this effect,whereby, there is no indication that there was any memo released to indicate the terms of termination to the wider professional society. There is also no noticeable economic or pecuniary loss accrued by Dr. Lee from the statements made by Dr. Marris and therefore, not actionable in such a respect. Finaly, the defamation complaint by Dr. Lee faces the challenge of the fact that in Samuel Albert v. Salmen Loksen, Brooklyn Hospital and Karen Buono, 239 F. 3d 256, 99-7520 (2nd Cir. 2001) found that person with similar interest on a subject qualify for protection of some of their communication from defamatory allegations. In this case, the supervisors; Dr Baird and Marris qualify for the privilege because the statements appear after the situation and prior to termination as a review of employee misconduct and possibly reasons for discharge. In Ansa Qureshi v. St. Barnabas Hospital Center and David Rubin, 430F. 2d 279, 287 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) and Colantino v. Mercy Medical Center, 73 A.D. 3d 966, 901N.Y.S. 2d 370, 374 (2010) the New York Appelate courts found need for proof that the statements were made out of malice or presense of perceivable falsity such as in Dr. Marris review of Dr. Lee given the case facts, that is lacking in the case.
After analyzing the defamation complaint by Dr Lee against Dr. Marris, the court is likely to decide that the complaint is a retaliatory action against the supervisor for termination and dismiss the case not having substantially probative matters for trial for defamation. There are no enough grounds to accuse Dr. Marris of defamation on the grounds that he shared his expert opinion to a fellow supervisor about the dutiful conduct of a junior staff and to the extent that the statement was not disclosed to the society by a publication, no special harm in the broader professional perspective can be adduced to his reputation.
Ansa Qureshi v. St. Barnabas Hospital Center and David Rubin, 430F. 2d 279, 287 (S.D.N.Y. 2006).
Colantino v. Mercy Medical Center, 73 A.D. 3d 966, 901N.Y.S. 2d 370, 374 (2010).
Dillon v. City of NY, 261A.D. 2d 34, 704 (N.Y.S. 1999).
Samuel Albert v. Salmen Loksen, Brooklyn Hospital and Karen Buono, 239 F. 3d 256, 99-7520 (2nd Cir. 2001).
 Dillon v. City of New York, 261 A.D.2d 34 (1999)
 Albert v. Loksen, 239 F.3d 256 (2001)
 Colantonio v. Mercy Medical Center, 73 A.D.3d 966 (2010)