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Banka v. Columbia Broadcasting Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 30, 2014

DR. VIDYA S. BANKA
v.
COLUMBIA BROADCASTING COMPANY

Page 502

For Dr. Vidya S. Banka, M.D., Plaintiff: ADRIAN J. MOODY, LEAD ATTORNEY, MOODY & SHIELDS GROUP LLC., Philadelphia, PA USA.

For Columbia Broadcasting Company, also known as CBS 3, Defendant: GAYLE CHATILO SPROUL, LEAD ATTORNEY, LEVINE SULLIVAN KOCH & SCHULZ LLP, Philadelphia, PA USA.

Page 503

MEMORANDUM

Juan R. Sánchez, J.

Plaintiff Dr. Vidya S. Banka brings this action against Defendant Columbia Broadcasting Company (CBS 3)[1] alleging claims of libel and false light invasion of privacy[2] stemming fro two reports CBS 3 broadcasted on both its television channel and its website on April 3, 2013, and May 1, 2013. CBS 3 filed a motion to dismiss, asserting Dr. Banka's claims are barred by

Page 504

the statute of limitations because he failed to serve his Complaint in a timely manner. CBS 3 also asserts that even if the the Complaint was timely served, the Court should dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim or, in the alternative, suspend this case pending the resolution of several malpractice lawsuits filed against Dr. Banka in state court. CBS 3's motion to dismiss will be denied in its entirety for the reasons set forth below.

BACKGROUND[3]

Dr. Banka is a cardiologist in Pennsylvania, and is not a public official or public figure.[4] Beginning in 1996, Dr. Banka practiced at the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia (the Hospital) and performed cardiac cauterization and percutaneous coronary interventions including stent procedures. He also served as Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (now known as the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania), and maintained a private practice as a cardiologist.

In June 2012, an unidentified person complained about Dr. Banka to the Hospital, suggesting he performed stent procedures that were medically inappropriate and he should be investigated. The Hospital then began an investigation into Dr. Banka's treatment of his former patients that lasted until August 2012. Dr. Banka was not told of any formal investigation in writing, nor was he asked to reply to allegations of inappropriate procedures. He was also not asked to participate in the review or to provide information to the Hospital. In September 2012, the Hospital advised Dr. Banka it had identified eight stenting procedures involving four patients that it deemed inappropriate and asked him to voluntarily relinquish his invasive and interventional cardiology medical privileges. Dr. Banka acquiesced and voluntarily relinquished those privileges on September 7, 2012.

Between September 2012 and January 2013, Dr. Banka continued to teach, see patients, and practice clinical cardiology at the Hospital. In January 2013, after Dr. Banka discussed moving his practice from the Hospital, the Hospital disclosed the names of the four patients and the eight stent procedures which were flagged in the review. On March 1, 2013, Dr. Banka resigned his position at the Hospital because he had reached a tentative agreement to join the faculty at Drexel University and move his practice to Hahnemann University Hospital. The Hospital thereafter

Page 505

sent letters to all 700 of Dr. Banka's patients informing them it had reviewed a sample of Dr. Banka's cases and found in some cases " placement of a stent may be not have been supported by the testing that was done at the time." Mem. of Law in Supp. of Def.'s Mot. to Dismiss (hereinafter Mot. to Dismiss) Ex. 1, at 20. The letters did not claim Dr. Banka had actually performed any unnecessary stent procedures. On April 3, 2013, the Hospital made a public statement regarding its investigation, announcing it found upon a review of a sample of Dr. Banka's cases that some patients received stents when the testing did not appear to show ...


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