Torrey v. Infectious Diseases Socty, No. 22-40728 (5th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs are people who claim to suffer from chronic Lyme disease. A person contracts Lyme disease from ticks carrying the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi. In 2006, IDSA published The Clinical Assessment, Treatment, and Prevention of Lyme Disease, Human Granulocytic Anaplasmosis, and Babesiosis: Clinical Practice Guidelines by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (“the Guidelines”). The Guidelines extensively discuss how to diagnose and treat Lyme disease. Throughout, they express doubt about the causes, frequency, and even the existence of chronic Lyme disease. Moreover, the Guidelines do not recommend long-term antibiotic therapy for persons with persistent Lyme symptoms who have already received recommended treatments.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims. Plaintiffs took issue with IDSA’s positions that (1) “there is no convincing biological evidence for the existence of symptomatic chronic B. burgdorferi infection among patients after receipt of recommended treatment regimens for Lyme disease,” and (2) “antibiotic therapy has not proven to be useful and is not recommended for patients with chronic (>6 months) subjective symptoms after recommended treatment regimens for Lyme disease.” On their face, however, these statements are medical opinions. In this context (a scientific debate over treatment options for persistent Lyme symptoms), to say that evidence is not “convincing” or that some treatment is “not recommended” is plainly to express a medical opinion. Just because Plaintiffs disagree with those opinions does not mean that IDSA is somehow liable because their doctors or insurance providers found the opinions persuasive.