Dr. Walter Sullivan was one of several plastic surgeons in Las Vegas visited by Julie Jones. Jones,


 Dr. Walter Sullivan was one of several plastic surgeons in Las Vegas visited by Julie Jones. Jones, an exotic dancer, sought plastic surgery to improve her ability to make money in her profession. After visiting Sullivan for a consultation, she then visited Dr. Joseph Bongiovi Jr. During her consultation with Bongiovi, Jones mentioned her earlier visit with Sullivan. Bongiovi then told her that Sullivan had a patient die the previous week during the same procedure Jones sought. Bongiovi told her the death was the direct result of Sullivan’s negligence.
Despite Bongiovi’s allegations, Jones saw Sullivan again and scheduled the surgery with him. Jones did, however, attend a prescheduled appointment with Bongiovi. During the appointment, at Jones’s prompting, Bongiovi confirmed what he had said before—that Sullivan had recently been responsible for a patient’s death during the same procedure Jones sought.
On the basis of the confirmation from Bongiovi, Jones called to cancel her surgical appointment with Sullivan. When Sullivan’s office manager asked why she was canceling the appointment, Jones said she had been told that Sullivan was under investigation for a patient’s death.
When Sullivan learned of the cancellation, he called Jones to find out who had made the statements; he was unsuccessful in obtaining a name.
After speaking with Sullivan, Jones again called Bongiovi’s office to receive confirmation about the allegation. Bongiovi’s assistant confirmed that the statements were true.
When Sullivan eventually learned the identity of Bongiovi, he filed suit for defamation. According to Sullivan, Bongiovi’s statements were slanderous per se. At the conclusion of a trial, a jury found in favor of Sullivan and awarded him \($250,000\) in compensatory damages and \($250,000\) in punitive damages. Bongiovi appealed, arguing that the jury should have been instructed that actual malice was the standard because Sullivan was a public figure. Furthermore, Bongiovi argued that the compensatory and punitive damages awarded were exorbitant.
1. What defenses, if any, could Bongiovi have presented to prevent the damage awards?
2. Do you believe Sullivan is a public figure? Why or why not?

Fantastic news! We've Found the answer you've been seeking!

Step by Step Answer:

Related Book For  book-img-for-question

Dynamic Business Law

ISBN: 9781260733976

6th Edition

Authors: Nancy Kubasek, M. Neil Browne, Daniel Herron, Lucien Dhooge, Linda Barkacs

Question Posted: