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Court Dismisses Defamation Claims Based on Peer Review Communications

The United States District Court for the Western District of Washington dismissed the false light and defamation claims brought against a hospital by a physician who alleged that his privileges had been inappropriately revoked and that the hospital and its representatives had defamed him in the process. The court had previously rejected any such claims that were based on an email distributed by the hospital’s medical staff services professional, which discussed board approvals and noted that the plaintiff physician was no longer on staff. In doing so, the court had held that such communications were protected peer review communications under state law – but the court granted the physician leave to amend his complaint to assert defamation and false light allegations that might fall outside the peer review privilege and immunity protections – specifically, communications made after the medical staff services professional’s email. In his fourth amended complaint, the physician asserted that another physician had defamed him in the year prior to the alleged revocation of his privileges. Noting that such allegations fell outside the leave to amend the complaint, the court upheld dismissal of the false light and defamation claims.
Naini v. King Cty. Hosp. Dist. No. 2

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