Physician accuses New York radio personality of slander

On-air comments included disparaging remarks about the oncologist's clinical skills.

By Mike Norbut — Posted Aug. 15, 2005

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A Connecticut physician has sued New York radio personality Don Imus for slander, accusing the syndicated host of defaming him on the air.

Howard A. Pearson, MD, a pediatric hematologist/oncologist and professor of pediatrics emeritus at Yale University School of Medicine, claims in his lawsuit that Imus called him "one of the worst doctors in the world," during several "Imus in the Morning" programs last year. The lawsuit, filed last month in New York, also claims Imus said Dr. Pearson "did not care if children suffered."

"He can't call me a bad doctor," Dr. Pearson said. "I've become something of a folk hero for this. I've received some very nice letters from people."

Dr. Pearson formerly worked at Imus's ranch near Ribera, N.M., providing any needed medical care to children attending summer camps. Imus hosts camps for children with cancer or serious blood disorders, and for children who have lost siblings to sudden infant death syndrome.

The lawsuit stems from a confrontation between Imus and Dr. Pearson after the doctor had been called to treat a child complaining of upper back pain. After learning of the child's condition, which was not considered an emergency, Dr. Pearson left the building where he was staying and walked a quarter-mile to the infirmary, declining an offer for a ride from Imus' wife, according to the lawsuit.

Imus later confronted Dr. Pearson on his apparent lack of urgency, according to the lawsuit. The next day, Imus named Dr. Pearson and where he was employed on his radio program, broadcast from the ranch, and made disparaging remarks about his clinical abilities, the lawsuit states.

Dr. Pearson said he quit working for Imus after that camp ended.

Imus, whose show originates on WFAN in New York, did not return calls placed to his office.

The lawsuit seeks damages for "conscious pain and suffering, physical injury, great mental distress, shock, humiliation, and economic loss."

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