Quackwatch “Defamation” Verdicts Could Reach Many Tens of Millions of US Dollars…

Opinion by Consumer Advocate  Tim Bolen 

Delicensed MD Stephen Barrett, of quackwatch.com infamy, announced to his followers (Barrett’s Parrots) last week that: “During the next few days, my sites will be changing servers. It’s possible that the healthfraud list will be disrupted during the switch.”

Barrett critics are concerned about this situation – for several reasons.  The questions are: (1)  Is Barrett moving his quackwatch.com, etc., servers out of reach of the US Court System after recent Courtroom losses?   (2) Is Barrett moving his quackwatch.com, etc., servers out of reach of the US Court System after the  barrage of newly files legal actions naming him, and his, as the Defendants? (3)   Is Barrett moving his servers out of US Court Jurisdiction to avoid answering legal demands for “discovery” of information on his websites?

All of the above are possible, but even more likely is this:   Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have “Terms of Service” requirements.  Every one I’ve ever seen has rules about not defaming others.  Barrett’s ISP may simply have ousted him, and his sleazy quackwatch.com offering, when Barrett refused to remove the offensive material.

Barrett, and his National Council Against Health Fraud (NCAHF) “quackbuster” cronies, a few years go, were hit with an Court award against them, for attorney fees of over a $100,000 in a California case.  They’ve never sent the check.  The NCAHF is belly-up because of this and fled the State of California, ending up in a cardboard box in the back room of its president, Robert S. Baratz MD, DDS, PhD’s hair removal and tanning salon in Peabody, Massachusetts – and is NOT registered with the State of Massachusetts.

Then, of course, Barrett, Grell, and Polevoy (Canada’s low-budget Barrett) lost the case against Humantics Foundation President Ilena Rosenthal in the California Supreme Court – with, I’m guessing an attorney award to Rosenthal of over $200,000.  In that case Barrett was opposed by not only Rosenthal, but a host of other angry Americans.

Friend of the Court” Briefs, arguing in our favor,  were provided by Amazon, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, EBay, the ACLU of Northern California, AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, ABC, Ask Jeeves, the Cable News Network, Compuserve, Earthlink, ESPN, Netscape, SBC Internet, Time Warner, Washington Post, Association for Competitive Technology, California Newspaper Publishers Association, Information Technology of America Association, Internet Commerce Coalition, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, Netchoice, NetCoalition, Newspaper Association of America, Online News Association, Online Publishers Association, Technet, and the United State Internet Service Providers Association.

The case became a rallying point for American free speech and an opportunity to teach a lesson to those that would try, through intimidation, to stop Americans from exercising their free speech rights .

And again, there still that case going on in Canada where Canadian health activist Wayne Obie is suing Barrett, and Baratz, for 1.3 million dollars in damages.

All told, before this latest round of legal actions, I had estimated that Barrett was involved in fourteen (14) separate legal actions across North America.  If each cost him $100,000 – he’d have spent 1.4 million ($1,400,000) on legal fees BEFORE the latest batch of actions he’s facing.  Barrett, in a Federal case in Oregon, a few years ago, testified that he had made only $54,000 over the last two year period.  I have to ask:  “How do you spend 1.2 million dollars on legal fees from an income of $54,000? ” 

Good question…

Barrett lost that Oregon case.

But it gets even better…

Barrett may be getting letters from attorneys representing the American Cancer Society (ACS), who for various reasons, may be wanting Barrett to pay for some of their recent losses.  Like losses amounting to millions of dollars.

Last December 2006, just before the Christmas holidays, the ACS pulled publication of their book American Cancer Society’s Guide to Complementary and Alternative Cancer Methods” after they received an angry letter from a prominent US Physician, threatening legal action, who had been written up in an earlier edition.  The article about this doctor, a leading cancer researcher who worked under grants from Nestle Corporation, Proctor and Gamble, and the US National Institute of Health had been written by Stephen Barrett and the late, and infamous, Victor Herbert.

The ACS, and their Publisher McGraw Hill, stopped publication of the book, which had been scheduled for release for the Christmas season, after  reviewing the carefully prepared letter’s accusations.

It is not known, at this time, how many copies of the book had been printed for the Holiday release.  But let’s assume that 2.5 million books were printed and boxed up for distribution – and estimate that McGraw Hill charged ACS $6.50 each.  2.5 million books times $6.50 printing costs each, ads up to sixteen million two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($16,250,000) – a loss amount noticeable even to ACS, the “limousine charity” of the cancer world.  Imagine how long it takes for small children, with little cups in their hands, marching from door-to-door in America’s heartland, to collect $16,250,000 – just to have it thrown away, and the books sent to the incinerator company because the ACS relied on Stephen Barrett’s website drivel.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to find that Barrett will be sued, not only by the doctor, but by the book’s editor, and the American Cancer Society.

Barrett, et al, are desperately trying to raise money…

I have to laugh when I hear Barrett’s desperate pleas for financial support.  He’s even got radio doctor Dean Edell trying to raise money for him.  Barrett better get out there and raise that cash – because he’s going to need a shipload.

And, there’s more activity coming.  In the words of the poet  “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

So… Stay tuned…

Tim Bolen – Consumer Advocate