(I have no connections to either Quackwatch or "Doctor's Data", and do not know Dr. Barrett. However, this case caught my eye.)
From a law firm, Augustine, Kern and Levens, Ltd. of Chicago:
Dear Dr. Barrett:
It has recently come to the attention of our client, Doctor's Data, Inc., an Illinois corporation, that you have, on a continuing basis, harmed Doctor's Data by transmitting false, fraudulent and defamatory information about this company in a variety of ways, including on the internet and in other publications. Doctor's Data is shocked that you would intentionally try to harm its business and its relationship not only with doctors but also with the public. Doctor's Data has also learned that you have apparently conspired with and encouraged individuals to seek litigation against it, and have filed false complaints at various government and regulatory agencies against Doctor's Data.
"It is never libelous," you have said, "to criticize an idea." However, you have gone way beyond the idea stage, and our client will not tolerate it. You apparently have carried on this conduct in an intentional manner and with the assistance of others. It is clear that you have a specific intent to harm Doctor's Data, and this conduct must stop immediately.
We demand that you cease and desist any and all comments regarding Doctor's Data, which have been and are false, fraudulent, defamatory or otherwise not truthful, and make a complete and full retraction of all statements you have made in the past, including those which have led in some instances to litigation. Such comments include, but are not limited to, those made in your article entitled, "How the 'Urine Toxic Metals' Test Is Used to Defraud Patients," which you authored and posted on Quackwatch.com. "The best evidence for reckless disregard," you have written, "is failure to modify where notified." Consider this notice to you that if you do not make these full and complete retractions within 10 days of the date of this letter, in each and every place in which you have made false and fraudulent, untruthful or otherwise defamatory statements, Doctor's Data will proceed with litigation against you and any organizations, entities and individuals acting in common cause or concert with you, to the full extent of the law, and will seek injunctive relief and monetary damages, both compensatory and punitive.
Doctor's Data is a CLlA-certified company in full compliance with all state and federal regulatory and CLlA standards, and your false, fraudulent, defamatory and otherwise untruthful comments have been made to intentionally damage Doctor's Data, Inc. This conduct will no longer be tolerated and if the retractions are not made as written above, the lawsuit shall be filed imminently.
Very truly yours,
Dr. Barrett of Quackwatch replied:
Dear Mr. Augustine:
Thank you for your letter of June 4th in which you accuse me of "transmitting false, fraudulent and defamatory information" about Doctor's Data. Your letter asks me to:
Cease and desist any and all comments regarding Doctor's Data, which have been and are false, fraudulent, defamatory or otherwise not truthful. and make a complete and full retraction of all statements you have made in the past.
Make . . . full and complete retractions within 10 days of the date of this letter, in each and every place in which you have made false and fraudulent, untruthful or otherwise defamatory statements.
I take great pride in being accurate and carefully consider complaints about what I write. However, your letter does not identify a single statement by me that you believe is inaccurate or "fraudulent." The only thing you mention is my article about how the urine toxic metals test is used to defraud patients: (http://www.quackwatch.org/t). The article's title reflects my opinion, the basis of which the article explains in detail.
If you want me to consider modifying the article, please identify every sentence to which you object and explain why you believe it is not correct.
If you want me to consider statements other than those in the article, please send me a complete list of such statements and the people to whom you believe they were made.
Stephen Barrett, MD
To which the response was predictable, resulting in this:
On June 18th, Doctor's Data filed suit against me [Barrett], the National Council Against Health Fraud, Inc., Quackwatch, Inc., and Consumer Health Digest, accusing us of restraint of trade; trademark dilution; business libel; tortious interference with existing and potential business relationships; fraud or intentional misrepresetation; and violating federal and state laws against deceptive trade practices. (On June 29th, Consumer Health Digest was dropped as a defendant.) The complaint asks for more than $10 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The suit objects to seven articles on my Web sites:
- How the Urine Toxic Metals Test Is Used to Defraud Patients
- CARE Clinics, Doctor's Data, Sued for Fraud
- Be Wary of CARE Clinics and the Center for Autistic Spectrum Disorders (CASD)
- Three brief articles in Consumer Health Digest:
- Laboratories Doing Nonstandard Laboratory Tests
Barrett also writes:
Very few people provide the type of information I do. One reason for this is the fear of being sued. Knowledgeable observers believe that Doctor's Data is trying to intimidate me and perhaps to discourage others from making similar criticisms. However, I have a right to express well-reasoned opinions and will continue to do so. If you would like to help with the cost of my defense, please follow the instructions on our donations page.
This seems like a case of legal intimidation and may be a case for Senator Grassley's whistleblower hotline (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Finally, as a Medical Informatics specialist once called "Doctor Data", I find the company name "Doctor's Data" for a company in this business ironic indeed.