Judge Rules To Strike Complaint In Defamation Suit Against ProPublica, New York Times Magazine

propublica_logo_2.25.10.jpgA ruling by a federal judge is likely to result in the dismissal of a libel lawsuit filed against ProPublica and The New York Times. The suit was filed in October of last year by Dr. William Armington, a physician mentioned in an article written by ProPublica‘s Sheri Fink and published in The New York Times Magazine. The article, titled “The Deadly Choices at Memorial,” detailed how medical staff at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans had deliberately administered lethal doses of drugs to critically ill patients in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

After dissecting the article, the judge determined that it did not specifically call out Dr. Armington as being among the health care professionals who knowingly euthanized patients without their consent. Furthermore, he determined that Armington had not shown any detail in the article to be false or defamatory.

Armington’s attorney found the ruling to be less than satisfactory, writing: “The Court believed that the article ‘selfishly resurrects melodrama to an old and sad story,’ but nonetheless held that the article did not ‘directly accuse Dr. Armington of engaging in euthanasia. We respectfully disagree with the latter.”

ProPublica‘s general manager Richard Tofel, however, said he was “pleased” by the court’s decision and commended Fink for her “extraordinary work of journalism.”