“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is an 1872 English language nursery rhyme that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Despite the positive stiff upper-lip admonition encouraging children to remain calm while under verbal assault by playground mates, the truth is that words do hurt, are often devastating and can ruin lives and careers.
Two Centennial Medical Center doctors and the entities that employ them might discover this for themselves — papers have yet to be served — and see that false and misleading comments, verbalized or written, about a fellow physician may cost them $120 million.
On Oct. 18, Dr. Philip Rosenthal, a locally based solo practitioner and neurosurgeon, sued Dr. Michael Schlosser, Dr. Richard Berkman and their employers, Neurosurgical Associates, HCA Health Services of Tennessee and TriStar Health System Inc. — both doing business as Centennial Medical Center — for defamation libel, defamation slander and the intentional affliction of emotional distress.
Rosenthal filed his complaint in Davidson County Circuit Court. The neurosurgeon is represented by Thomas R. Greer and Wilton H. McNeely of Bailey & Greer PLLC, a Memphis-based law firm. Greer is the lead counsel but was unavailable for comment on Monday.
Apparently, Rosenthal, Berkman and Schlosser weren’t medical practice partners but did work together at Centennial with some consistent level of proximity from 2002 to April 2010. All are practicing neurosurgeons.
The facts at this point are a bit sketchy as the complaint will more than likely be modified once discovery begins. We know that in April 2010, Rosenthal left his Centennial-based solo practice and began, according to the complaint, to look for similar work at hospitals and medical facilities all over the country, from Pittsburgh to New York and back. The complaint lists more than a dozen medical centers — some nationally notable — that either terminated Rosenthal after discovering what Berkman and Schlosser had to say about him or, because of the Berkmann/Schlosser communications, made no offer of employment from April 2010 to earlier this month.
The complaint states that Berkman, Schlosser and others employed at Centennial “made false and misleading statements with malice and reckless disregard for the truth to persons in the medical community” about Rosenthal. This same charge is made for each circumstance enumerated.
McNeely said it wasn’t necessary to know exactly what was said or written to prove their case. He said the plaintiffs have it on good authority that, at discovery, the damming statements, verbalized or written, will surface and then the complaint will be modified to prove their point more specifically.
“It’s called 'notice filing' when this approach is taken,” McNeely said.
HCA representatives could not be reached for comment Monday. It was confirmed by McNeely that evidence of service of process had yet to be received by his firm.
- ALEX B FRUIN INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDACE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; CANDANCE F STEFANSIC INHERITANCE TRUST; FRUIN, ALEX B TRUSTEE; FRUIN ALEX B INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC, CANDACE F TRUSTEE; STEFANSIC CANDACE F INHERITANCE TRUST; STEFANSIC CANDANCE F INHERITANCE TRUST
- ROSS, BRIDGETT D
- COOKE, ETHEN LANYARD TRUSTEE; COOKE, ETHEN LEWIS ESTATE
- JACOBS, JESSICA ALEXANDRA; JACOBS, ERIKA BESS