That question and others may soon be answered in a first-of-its-kind case in Oregon.>"/>
Can a person defame another person in 140 characters or less?
That question and others may soon be answered in a first-of-its-kind case in Oregon.
Tiffany Craig runs the blog Criminallyvulgar. Jerrold Darm runs a medical spa-treatment center in Tigard.
As a blogger (bless her heart), Craig took interest in Darm because of the local TV ads he ran in the Portland area. In June, Craig did a little research and found that Darm had been reprimanded in 2001 by the Oregon Health Board for some inappropriate behavior with a patient.
As The Oregonian reports the doctor was essentially found to have tried to collect payment from a female patient with a little touchy-feely.
As Craig wrote in her post and later linked to on Twitter:
He wants to fix you up good and spend thousands on cosmetic procedures that will get funneled straight into his Lake Oswego home.
What he should have added with his Results May Vary disclaimer is Dr. Darm Handed Over His Medical License Due To Disciplinary Action.
Not quite the same ring as instant weight loss though, right?
Licensee has surrendered his or her license to resolve a disciplinary action. No practice is permitted.
Oh and why?
EFFECTIVE 10/18/01 RECEIVED A LETTER OF REPRIMAND FROM OREGON, REQUIRED TO HAVE A CHAPERONE WHEN EXAMINING FEMALE ADULTS, AND ADDITIONAL CONTINUING MEDICAL EDUCATION COURSES. EFFECTIVE 01/08/09 STIPULATED ORDER OF 10/18/01 IS TERMINATED.
That stuff about "hand[ing] over his medical license" and "no practice is permitted" is, well, untrue.
Dr. Darm was reprimanded and he was forced to go to classes, take detailed reports, and always keep a chaperone with him when he examines female patients, but he wasn't stripped of his license.
Unfortunately for the untold multitudes who undoubtedly rely on Craig's blog for their source of analysis of the local health-spa industry, people might have been tempted to think Dr. Darm's transgressions were really bad instead of just bad.
Proving libel cases is difficult under the best of circumstances, and attorneys typically have to show that the alleged libeler acted with "malice" or with the direct intention of harming the other person.
Craig's lawyer has argued that the case shouldn't even be heard, and has cited Oregon's Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) law as reason to toss the case on grounds that it suppresses free speech.
This tactic has worked well with similar cases in the past, and the case, if the SLAPP law is not applied, will be the first Twitter-centric case to make it to the floor of a courtroom.