The Seattle Times asks for dismissal of 8 defamation claims in Dr. Johnny Delashaw libel case: 5 insights


The Seattle Times is calling for dismissal of some defamation claims brought by Johnny B. Delashaw, MD, in a libel lawsuit, according to

Here are five insights:

1. Dr. Delashaw, the former Seattle-based Swedish Neuroscience Institute chair, sued The Seattle Times in April, arguing it published falsities and left out facts. He alleged the newspaper based its article on the incorrect claim that he rushed through simultaneous surgeries to increase his profits.

2. The libel lawsuit is in response to a February 2017 investigative report by The Seattle Times on the spine and neurosurgery services at Providence Health & Services Swedish-Cherry Hill hospital. The report raised suspicions around the hospital's invasive brain and spine procedures generating around $500 million in net operating revenue in 2015 as well as seeing higher Medicare reimbursement per inpatient visit than any other hospital of its size.

3. The Seattle Times asked the federal judge to dismiss eight of Dr. Delashaw's defamation claims, arguing he failed to clarify how these claims were defamatory. The newspaper did not ask for dismissal of five other defamation claims brought by Dr. Delashaw, however.

Further, the newspaper argues Dr. Delashaw is a public figure, and thus must prove actual malice in this case, meaning the newspaper published reports it knew to be false, showing "reckless disregard for the truth." Dr. Delashaw, on the other hand, says he only gained attention as neurosurgeon due to the coverage by The Seattle Times, and thus is not a public figure.

4. Dr. Delashaw also alleges the newspaper destroyed the relationship with his former employer, but The Seattle Times argues he resigned from his role voluntarily.

5. In his complaint, Dr. Delashaw requests the newspaper delete the alleged inaccuracies and publish a retraction.


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