Wakefield vs BMJ lawsuit dismissed on jurisdiction grounds
Posted Aug 03 2012 5:00pm
Andrew Wakefield’s lawsuit against the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Brian Deer and Fiona Godlee has been thrown out based on a lack of jurisdiction . Put plainly, he doesn’t have the standing to sue any of the parties involved as they are outside the U.S..
Had the lawsuit not been dismissed the BMJ team was prepared to fight the case on the facts. This is evidenced by vigorous response they made to the lawsuit, as well as supplemental filings .
Mr. Wakefield may have the opportunity to appeal the dismissal.
Godlee and Deer called the case frivolous and said it fit a pattern of Wakefield trying to silence his critics with lawsuits.
“We’re very pleased with the court’s decision,” said defense attorney Marc Fuller at Vinson & Elkins in Dallas. “We stood behind the reporting in the case, and from our perspective, it’s over.”
The comment above refers to previous attempts by Mr. Wakefield to sue Brian Deer. In one case, Mr. Wakefield dismissed his own lawsuit and was required to pay the legal fees for Mr. Deer. Had the current defamation case gone forward, Mr. Wakefield faced an anti-SLAPP motion based on a new Texas law which had the potential to cost Mr. Wakefield legal fees in this case. Based on the amount of documents supplied, the Texas suit has likely already cost a great deal of money, and was on track to be a very expensive endeavor. Mr. Wakefield may be fortunate to have gotten out early.
Since this is a dismissal on jurisdiction grounds, we do not have a ruling as to whether it is defamatory to call Mr. Wakefield a “fraud” or “fraudster” based on his research activities (such statements were part of Mr. Wakefield’s defamation suit), which resulted in his Lancet paper being retracted and which activities were deemed unethical by the General Medical Council.