CNN sued by St. Mary's doctor over child death rate report

Dr. Michael Black sues CNN for defamation.

CNN is being sued by Dr. Michael Black over the network's report on child death rates at the hospital.

Black is suing for defamation. Attorney John F. Mariani with Kammerer Mariani PLLC filed the suit Feb. 16 with the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Court in Palm Beach County.

According to the 211-page lawsuit, CNN published a report on June 1, 2015, called "Secret Deaths: CNN finds high surgical death rate for children at a Florida Hospital." The story also featured video, "published to a global audience" by the CNN defendants on CNN's website, and broadcast live on CNN's cable television station.

The lawsuit claims the preconceived goal of the June 1, 2015 article and video report was to manufacture an outrageous, headline-grabbing story about an incompetent, dishonest, and inexperienced doctor leading a surgical program in crisis and recklessly operating on young children to profit at the expense of those children's lives."

Black came under fire after CNN aired a report about nine infant deaths during a four year period at St. Mary's Medical Center.

St. Mary's, after the report aired, closed its pediatric heart surgery program.

The lawsuit said, "Dr. Black never treated babies as sacrificial lambs."

CNN personalities Elizabeth Cohen, John Bonifield, Dana Ford, Anderson Cooper and Kelly Robinson, in addition to CNN, are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Black is suing for actual and presumed damages at a jury trial.

CBS12 has calls into Black and CNN for a comment.

Bernadette Brown, an I Manager in Newsgathering, told CBS12, "We intend to fight this in the courts. We will fight hard in defense of our reporting and we expect to prevail."

Libby Locke, one of several attorneys for Black issued this statement to CBS12:

"Dr. Black's complaint clearly demonstrates the lengths to which CNN and its reporters are willing to go to grab headlines and promote their 'Empowered Patient' brand. CNN recklessly and repeatedly ignored information demonstrating the absolute falsity of their claims about Dr. Black and the surgical program he led, and deliberately manipulated statistics to fit their predetermined conclusion about the quality of care provided by Dr. Black and St. Mary's. Make no mistake: CNN's claims about Dr. Black are categorically false. Dr. Black has devoted his entire life and career to helping some of society's sickest and most vulnerable children, and he took great pains to ensure that the program he led at St. Mary's was first-rate. Dr. Black looks forward to vindicating his reputation in court."

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