In a stunning development, Lehigh Valley Pennsylvania Judge J. Brian Johnson on Thursday, October 13, 2005, tossed out nationally known self-proclaimed "consumer medical advocate" Stephen Barrett's defamation lawsuit just minutes before it was going to be considered by a local jury.
The lawsuit, filed in August 2002, against also nationally known Pennsylvania chiropractor, lecturer and publisher, Dr. Tedd Koren sought unspecified damages against Koren and his company, Koren Publications, Inc. for statements that he wrote in his newsletter in 2001 about Barrett.
Barrett filed the lawsuit because of Koren's publication that Barrett was "de-licensed" and "in trouble because of a $10 million lawsuit" and because Barrett was called a "Quackpot." In his defense, Koren contended that the statements were true and not defamatory and that he had a First Amendment right to write them in his newsletter.
Thursday's ruling by Judge Johnson represented a major reversal of the finding of an arbitration in August 2004 wherein a panel of three local private attorneys reviewing the case had found in favor of Barrett and awarded Barrett $16,500 in damages and that Koren should publish a retraction. That award was appealed by Koren.
Dr. Koren was represented by well-known health freedom San Juan Capistrano, California, attorney Carlos F. Negrete for trial and Washington, D.C. attorney James Turner of Turner & Swankin.
In making the ruling to throw out the case, Judge Johnson granted a rare directed verdict to the jury finding there was insufficient evidence to support Barrett's claims. Judge Johnson indicated that this case was one of those "rare times" where such a motion was appropriate.
Barrett operates the web site quackwatch.org, chirobase.org, and 20 other web sites, and has been a long time critic of chiropractors calling many of their treatments as "quackery." The victory to chiropractor Koren comes almost 10 years to the date that chiropractors received national attention with their victory against the American Medical Association (AMA) by obtaining an injunction against the AMA from an Illinois federal judge for engaging in illegal boycotting of doctors chiropractic in Wilk et al vs. AMA.
Barrett had been an outspoken supporter of the AMA at the same time that Koren had been a vocal advocate that the AMA has, in recent years, violated the spirit of the federal judge's order.
After the ruling, Koren proclaimed that: "I am overjoyed and enthusiastic that this nightmare is over and that the science of chiropractic treatment and the work of all of my colleagues has been vindicated." "This case took a toll on my life and family, but I knew that I was right in publishing the truth." "Dr. Barrett has no right to silence anyone who criticizes him and tell consumers that he is not what he purports to be." "I believe that it is not right to be silent when there is a duty to inform the public and let the truth be told."
For years, Barrett has touted himself as a "medical expert" on "quackery" in the medical field and has assisted in dozens of court cases as an expert. He also was called upon by the FDA, FTC and other governmental agencies for his purported expertise. He was the subject of many magazine interviews, including Time Magazine and featured on television interviews on ABC's 20/20, NBC's Today Show and PBS. He has been outspoken and has gained media fame by his outspoken vocal disgust and impatience over non-traditional therapies and remedies, including his criticisms of two time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling.
Dr. Tedd Koren is known for his lectures in various chiropractic treatment methods and for his brochures that are displayed in many chiropractors office lobbies around the country. Dr. Koren is a cofounder of a chiropractic college in Pennsylvania and published scientific journals and received numerous awards in his field.
In his 2001 newsletter, Koren published articles that revealed that even though he touted himself as a medical expert, Barrett had not been a licensed physician since the early 1990s. He also published that Barrett had been the subject of a $10 million racketeering lawsuit [that had been withdrawn] and called him a "quackpot" for the contradiction of his website and lack of credentials.
Koren's trial attorney, Carlos F. Negrete of San Juan Capistrano, California, is known for his defense of physicians, chiropractors, dentists, clinics and natural heath therapists that practice what is known as complimentary and alternative medicine. Negrete has also handled groundbreaking cases against HMOs in California and has represented many celebrities and politicians.
At trial, under a heated cross-examination by Negrete, Barrett conceded that he was not a Medical Board Certified psychiatrist because he had failed the certification exam. This was a major revelation since Barrett had provided supposed "expert testimony" as a psychiatrist and had testified in numerous court cases. Barrett also had said that he was a "legal expert" even though he had no formal legal training.
This was not the first time that Negrete was a trial attorney in a Barrett case. He also represented anti-fluoridation advocate Darlene Sherrell in a federal lawsuit filed in Eugene, Oregon by Barrett. Barrett also lost in trial of that case. Negrete also represented Robert King of King Bio in a case filed by an organization led by Barrett, which was lost by Barrett's organization. Barrett has also filed a lawsuit against Negrete and his client Dr. Hulda Clark, which is now pending and awaiting trial in San Diego, California federal court.
After the Koren trial, Negrete stated: "The de-bunker has been de-bunked." "I am pleased and satisfied with this outcome for Dr. Koren and am proud that Dr. Koren did not succumb to the pressures of the intimidation of Barrett's legal wrangling." "Not everyone can stand up to someone as well known as Barrett." "It is another great day for health freedom and alternative therapists around the world." "I am especially pleased that this most important victory was in Barrett's own hometown." "It just goes to show you that there is justice anywhere, and even when you are a visitor challenging the home team." "Barrett is a shill for the medical and pharmaceutical cartels and his bully tactics and unjustified discrediting of leading innovators, scientists and health practitioners should not be tolerated."
Negrete goes on to say: "You can be assured that our legal team will be wherever health freedom advocates and practitioners are being persecuted." "The tide is now turning and people are no long accepting that synthetic drugs are the only form of treatment for their health and well being." "Every day, consumers are becoming more educated about the benefits of holistic and alternative methods." "This is something that the medical establishment obviously fears and want to crush with false propaganda."
Koren said that he would now go back to his home in Pennsylvania to spend more time with his family and continue to lecture on topics concerning chiropractic care and the experiences he has gained from this precedent setting legal battle. He plans to give new lectures to chiropractors across the country who are under attack or have been subjected to governmental actions for their treatment methods. He also announced that he is forming a new organization aimed at informing and assisting chiropractors across the country.
The trial started on Monday, October 10, 2005 and ended on October 13, 2005 Barrett was represented by local Allentown attorney, Richard Orloski.
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