Graboff v. Colleran Firm, No. 13-2229 (3d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
AAOS is a voluntary professional organization for orthopaedic surgeons, which has adopted professional standards, including member grievance procedures. Most orthopaedic surgeons are members of the AAOS, but it is not a licensing authority. AAOS member Dr. Meller initiated a grievance against another AAOS member, Dr. Graboff, claiming that Graboff wrote an inaccurate report based on incomplete information that was used against him in a civil malpractice case. After determining that Graboff’s testimony violated the AAOS’s Standards of Professionalism, which require members to provide honest and accurate testimony when serving as expert witnesses, the AAOS suspended Graboff from membership for two years and published a description of the proceedings in AAOS Now, its newsletter. Graboff sued, alleging that the AAOS article was defamatory and a false-light invasion of privacy because it selectively recounted the circumstances of the grievance proceedings to imply that he had testified falsely. A jury awarded Graboff $196,000 in damages for “false light” invasion of privacy. The Third Circuit affirmed, rejecting an argument that, as a matter of law, the jury’s finding that the AAOS had not made false statements foreclosed the possibility that it could be liable on the false-light claim.