CNN’s Anderson Cooper Found Not Liable for Defamation, But the Case Continues Against CNN

On April 25, 2023, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper’s motion for summary judgment was granted in Florida state court. A motion for summary judgment is a motion that the judge hears before the case goes to trial to determine if the “undisputed facts” permit an early resolution. Since the lawsuit was filed in 2016, Cooper was one of several defendants from CNN that faced defamation claims brought by Dr. Michael D. Black. These claims stemmed from a CNN story that questioned Dr. Black’s competency running a pediatric open-heart surgery program. Dr. Black alleged that he was defamed by the headline-grabbing and outrageous story that portrayed him as an incompetent and dishonest surgeon who was motivated by financial gain to perform surgeries he was not qualified to perform. Dr. Black further stated that CNN failed to report that he had a reputation as a successful pediatric surgeon and the story falsely inflated the mortality rate for babies receiving open-heart surgery at the hospital where he worked. 

Cooper filed his motion for summary judgment in September 2022, claiming that he did not play a part in investigating or editing the news about the open-heat surgery program. Circuit Judge Richard L. Oftedal found that Cooper did not act with fault because it is virtually impossible for a reporter or newscaster to fact-check every news item that they report. While Cooper had no role in investigating or editing the defamatory claims upon which Dr. Black’s complaint is based, the other CNN defendants may still be liable. The case will proceed against CNN and other defendants including CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen, and producers Kelly Robinson and John Bonifeld. 

 

Black is represented by Thomas A. Clare, Elizabeth M. Locke, Joseph R. Oliveri, Andrew C. Phillips, Shannon Timmann and Dustin A. Pusch of Clare Locke LLP and Christopher W. Kammerer of Rabin Kammerer Johnson PA.

CNN and its employees are represented by Charles D. Tobin, John W. Scott and Jacquelyn N. Schell of Ballard Spahr LLP and L. Martin Reeder Jr. and Joseph G. Galardi of Atherton Galardi Mullen & Reeder PLLC.

The case is Michael Black, MD v. Cable News Network, Inc., case number 2016CA001517XXXXMB, in the Circuit Court of the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Palm Beach County, Florida.

* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is a boutique entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The firm has extensive experience handling cases involving defamation law, having provided top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.

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