Joe Paduda being sued
Managed care industry blogger Joe Paduda is being sued for postings he made on his blog earlier in the month (go to www.joepaduda.com for the details).
While Mr. Paduda is known to post some inaccuracies from time to time (particularly about the MSA industry), he is not known for being malicious or intentionally trying to harm professional reputations. He generally is a pretty good fact checker and does his homework prior to publishing a story. When he gets something “wrong” it is more a matter of opinion than indisputable facts. I have also witnessed firsthand his willingness to modify a story if additional evidence is presented.
This situation is more interesting than usual because he specifically calls out an individual company’s business practices and goes after the senior management in a pretty direct way. The result was a Federal defamation suit. And whether he is proved right or wrong, there will be some significant expense litigating the matter. The company in question is backed by ABRY Partners (that’s right, the same outfit that thought it was a good idea to pay 180MM for Gould and Lamb) which I am guessing has a few more dollars in their bank account than does Joe Paduda and Health Care Strategy Associates.
Regardless, the lawsuit may be more of a PR move than a legitimate action to recover alleged lost revenues. And given the players involved, I would assume that there is more than a little ego involved. But stories like these have a way of taking on a life of their own, I suspect the lawsuit will end up doing more damage than good to the reputation of the company in question and their senior executives. Plus, based on my understanding of defamation, the plaintiffs are going to have a hard time proving Paduda acted maliciously (he had nothing to gain other than exposing a matter that was of public concern), probably did not publish anything that was materially untrue and took the time to investigate his story prior to publication.
In my opinion, this is just a lot to do about nothing. I hope it doesn’t cost Joe Paduda too much money to defend.
I have a specific strategy for preventing the type of defamation suit Joe is now facing.
1. I only publish what I reasonably know to be true.
2. I clearly delineate opinion from fact. Opinions enjoy much greater protection from claims of defamation (and for those of you that haven’t figured it out, this blog is mostly my opinion. Take it for what it is worth.)
3. And if someone has an axe to grind wants to sue for reasons other than legitimate business losses, it costs me nothing to defend. It’s one of the great benefits of being married to a lawyer and employing a dozen more.
So before you waste a bunch of time and money suing because you don’t like a story someone publishes, maybe you should change your behavior. Just because it is legal doesn’t mean it is ethical. And just because you can do it doesn’t mean you should.
Keep up the fight Paduda. I think you have the law on your side in this one.
(Disclaimer: The above commentary is opinion and not legal advice.)