AMA lends support to Florida physicians accused of defamation

The doctor filing suit is also challenging the Florida Medical Assn.'s peer review process.

By Mike Norbut — Posted July 25, 2005

Print  |   Email  |   Respond  |   Reprints  |   Like Facebook  |   Share Twitter  |   Tweet Linkedin

The American Medical Association has filed a friend-of-the-court brief in support of three Florida physicians who have been accused of defaming a California doctor when they asked the Florida Medical Assn. to review the expert witness testimony he offered for a plaintiff in a medical malpractice trial.

The brief, filed in Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal, says the physicians were legally and ethically bound to make their allegation and that self-policing peer review programs like the FMA's Expert Witness Committee protect the health care system.

If the defendants failed to report what they thought was false testimony, it "may have resulted in the suspension or revocation of their licenses," the brief reads. "This court should not issue a ruling in this matter that would deter or obstruct these ethical and legal obligations."

Florida neurologists Jonathan B. Warach, MD, and Pravinchandra C. Zala, MD, and internist Joseph O. Krebs, MD, were accused of defamation last year by John Fullerton, MD, a San Francisco internist. The FMA also was named in the lawsuit.

The three physicians were defendants in a medical malpractice case in which a jury found no negligence. After the verdict, the doctors requested the FMA review Dr. Fullerton's and another physician's testimony under the peer review program.

Dr. Fullerton's suit alleges that the defendants hurt his professional credibility when they requested a review of his testimony. It also challenges the peer review process, which he has called an intimidation tactic that targets physicians who testify for plaintiffs.

A circuit court judge dismissed all of the charges against the physicians and all but one charge, a defamation claim, against the medical association earlier this year. The judge recently threw out the final charge against the FMA. Dr. Fullerton has appealed the ruling regarding the physicians to the higher court.

Back to top



Read story

Confronting bias against obese patients

Medical educators are starting to raise awareness about how weight-related stigma can impair patient-physician communication and the treatment of obesity. Read story

Read story


American Medical News is ceasing publication after 55 years of serving physicians by keeping them informed of their rapidly changing profession. Read story

Read story

Policing medical practice employees after work

Doctors can try to regulate staff actions outside the office, but they must watch what they try to stamp out and how they do it. Read story

Read story

Diabetes prevention: Set on a course for lifestyle change

The YMCA's evidence-based program is helping prediabetic patients eat right, get active and lose weight. Read story

Read story

Medicaid's muddled preventive care picture

The health system reform law promises no-cost coverage of a lengthy list of screenings and other prevention services, but some beneficiaries still might miss out. Read story

Read story

How to get tax breaks for your medical practice

Federal, state and local governments offer doctors incentives because practices are recognized as economic engines. But physicians must know how and where to find them. Read story

Read story

Advance pay ACOs: A down payment on Medicare's future

Accountable care organizations that pay doctors up-front bring practice improvements, but it's unclear yet if program actuaries will see a return on investment. Read story

Read story

Physician liability: Your team, your legal risk

When health care team members drop the ball, it's often doctors who end up in court. How can physicians improve such care and avoid risks? Read story

  • Stay informed
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • RSS
  • LinkedIn