Two cardiologists named in lawsuits for performing alleged "unnecessary procedures" are now suing a television corporation for broadcasting the claims against them in a 2018 special show.
Doctors Satyabrata Chatterjee and Ashwini Anand, who were cardiologists with Saint Joseph London, filed the lawsuit last week on grounds of "personal injury" against CBS Corporation for an August 2018 episode of "48 Hours - Whistleblower." That episode featured the show's host, Alex Ferrer, talking with former patients of the London cardiologists who had been named in multiple lawsuits for allegedly implanting stents and pacemakers in heart patients who reportedly did not need those devices.
Chatterjee and Anand were both employed in London and conducted surgical procedures at the London Saint Joseph Hospital.
The lawsuit states the CBS broadcast made "multiple false and defamatory statements and video" about the two doctors.
Chatterjee was a licensed and board-certified cardiologist while Anand specialized in interventional cardiology. They claim that CBS contained, published and communicated false information that "imputed crime to them, injured their reputations and/or exposed them to public hatred" and "cast them in false light(s) that would be highly offensive to a reasonable person."
The lawsuit further claims the program suggested the two doctors performed unnecessary cardiac procedures and had false contracts with Saint Joseph London and that the content of that broadcast was "produced and published negligently, grossly negligently, with actual and/or constructive knowledge of falsity, with actual and common law malice and/or with a reckless disregard for the truth and the rights of the Physicians."
That broadcast, the lawsuit states, caused substantial and permanent damage to both doctors and included public hatred, ridicule, contempt, disgrace, scorn, shame, harm to reputation, severe emotional distress, inducement of an "evil opinion of them in the minds of reasonable people, deterrence of third persons from associating or dealing with them, and deprived them of friendship, intercourse and society. "
The lawsuit also states that the attorney for Chatterjee and Anand, Escum Moore III with Moore and Moore PLLC in Lexington, submitted a "Demand for Correction" on Sept. 21. A correction in a case involving a broadcasting company is listed in the letter to Joshua Gaynor with CBS News 48 Hours in New York as: "(a) the publication of an acknowledgement that the statement or statements specified as false and defamatory in the plaintiff's case are erroneous or (b) the publication of the plaintiff's statement of the true facts (as set forth in his demand for correction) or a fair summary thereof, exclusive of any portions thereof which are defamatory of another, obscene or otherwise improper for publication."
That section states if two or more statements are false the correction must address those issues. The demand states the broadcast indicated that Chatterjee and Anand "performed and profited from unnecessary cardiac procedures, specifically the placement of stents. It also stated that the two physicians paid the federal government $380,000 for "allegedly fraudulent contracts with the hospital."
But the two physicians claim the alleged unnecessary procedures were done by two other cardiologists and that neither Chatterjee nor Anand performed such surgery and that if they had done so, the evidence gathered by the United States Attorney's Office would surely not have excluded them from any charges.
That demand for correction also states that if the two cardiologists had been involved in those incidents, that "surely each and every one of the literally hundreds of civil lawsuits filed against them would not have been resolved in their favor without a single penny to any plaintiff." There has never, ever been any competent evidence linking the physicians to profits from alleged unnecessary procedures by other physicians, it continues.
A CBS spokesperson said, CBS News responded to the demand for correction and retraction by explaining in a letter that the "Whistleblower" report was accurate in its entirety. CBS News will also defend the accuracy of the report in court.
The two physicians are now taking the case to court, and demanding "compensatory and punitive damages" for court costs, pre-judgment interest, post-judgment interest, costs and attorney fees, all relief afforded by Kentucky law and any and all other relief to which they are properly entitled and trial by jury, the lawsuit further states.
According to the Circuit Court Clerk's office personnel, no court date has been set for this case at this time.
The investigation and lawsuits filed against the cardiologists and Saint Joseph London resulted in two cardiologists pleading guilty to fraudulently filing claims through Medicare/Medicaid programs and paying fines and at least one cardiologist serving a federal prison sentence.
Saint Joseph London also agreed to pay $16 million to the federal government stemming from the fraudulent claims. Several individuals also filed lawsuits against the hospital and individual physicians and organizations involved in the alleged unnecessary procedures, including a medical billing service established by Chatterjee and operated by his wife.
The case gained national attention when a lawsuit with nearly 200 plaintiffs was filed against the cardiologists and the hospital in 2014. Hospital officials have stated those claims were dismissed, although some were actually resolved out of court and one individual received a multi-million dollar settlement from a lawsuit. Of those cases settled, however, no other monetary amounts were disclosed.