More nonsense is being perpetrated in Tennessee, the recent home to an inordinate amount of stupid defamation lawsuits. The timing on this one is a bit off. Tennessee just adopted a new anti-SLAPP law — one that actually has some teeth.
After receiving a stinging — but not apparently defamatory — review of his services, Dr. Kaveer Nandigam of Nandigam Neurology decided to sue his patient for $25,000. Here’s the review (which is still live on Yelp) that prompted the lawsuit:
This “Dr’s” behavior today was totally unprofessional and unethical to put it mildly. I will be reporting him to the State of TN Medical Review Board and be filing a formal complaint. How this guy is in business is beyond me. Since when did they start allowing Doctors, to throw a complete temper tantrum in front of Patients and slam things when they get upset? He does not belong in the medical field at all.
Here’s the background on the alleged temper tantrum, as told to Matthew Torres of Nashville’s News Channel 5.
After being referred to Nandigam Neurology, [Kelly] Beavers brought her 67-year-old father for dizziness and memory loss, which may have been early signs of dementia. There have been prior interactions with the staff but never with the doctor until the last visit. Beavers says the interaction seemed fine at first, but that the doctor then threw a temper tantrum and slammed his clipboard when he realized she was recording the appointment on her cell phone, which is something she has done with other doctor visits.
“Sometimes we all have things we forget, so that’s why I record every doctor’s visit. I want to make sure that I’m doing everything right,” she explained. “He literally snapped and demanded my phone.”
The issue isn’t the recording. Tennessee is a one-party consent state, so Beavers didn’t need to ask permission before recording her father’s visit to Nandigam Neurology. The doctor’s demand she delete the recording is what’s out of line here. Beavers did delete the recording, but she wasn’t happy, and she turned to Yelp to express her displeasure.
Nandigam’s lawsuit (which multiple sites have covered but apparently no one can be bothered to post the complaint) claims Beavers’ review contains “false, disparaging, and misleading statements.” This is boilerplate and isn’t going to get the plaintiff very far — not when the review contains nothing more than Beavers’ opinion on the doctor’s behavior. She’s not part of the state’s medical board so she can’t actually make a factual declaration about unethical behavior. She can only present her subjective take on medical/professional ethics and she obviously felt being yelled at and told to delete a recording crossed that line.
The more interesting claim is this one:
The lawsuit also suggested that the second defendant “was specifically recruited” by Beavers to post false and misleading statements.
This drags the son of one of Beavers’ friends into the lawsuit. Allegedly, her friend’s son posted a negative review to Google after hearing about her experience. Dr. Nandigam frames this as a “conspiracy.” It’s a hot take and it probably won’t play well in court.
The downside is Beavers will have to defend herself against this bogus lawsuit. She’s started a GoFundMe for legal fees. Hopefully, the state’s new anti-SLAPP law will allow her to escape this suit before she has to spend too much money. And, if the court decides in her favor, she should be able to recover her legal fees from a doctor who has done more to damage his own reputation than Beavers’ single negative review ever could have done.