Doctor loses malpractice action against attorneys who represented him in defamation action.
John Nicklas, M.D., sued his own lawfirm, Green Green & Adams, PC, after his defamation claim against his cardiology associates proved unsuccessful. He alleged that his lawyers did not act quickly enough to file an amended complaint joining individual partner-physicians in the original lawsuit. He claimed that this failure resulted in the jury ruling against him in the defamation action.
The court ruled that the ex-partners enjoyed qualified immunity for their statements and that Nicklas' attorneys exercised valid legal judgment in failing to join them personally in the original lawsuit. Nicklas appealed. The high court analyzed each of the six statements he claimed were defamatory and concluded that none of them would have supported a successful legal claim by Nicklas. The court also dismissed Nicklas' appeal argument that the attorneys should have pursued a claim for "intentional interference with a business opportunity." It noted that the allegedly improper statements were all made without malice in the context of a valid, existing business undertaking by and two persons with a legitimate interest in the business.