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Libel lawsuit dismissed against Lake County Record-Bee

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  1. Libel and Privacy
A libel lawsuit against the Lake County Record-Bee's parent company, publisher and managing editor and a former reporter was dismissed Friday, the newspaper reported.

A libel lawsuit against the Lake County Record-Bee’s parent company, publisher and managing editor and a former reporter was dismissed Friday, the newspaper reported.

Neurologist Camille Keene filed the lawsuit alleging that the Record-Bee had damaged her reputation by using the word "misdiagnosed" in an April article about local radio personality Eric Patrick, whom the newspaper said she had falsely diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease, the Record-Bee reported.

Keene’s attorney, John Borba, argued that the paper should have made it clear that Keene did not actually diagnose Patrick with Lou Gehrig’s disease, and said only that she thought he might have the disease, according to the Record-Bee.

"Instead it was written in the context of trying to paint a picture that this local neurologist – the only one in town – was incompetent," Borba said to the Record-Bee.

Judge J. Michael Byrne said he saw it differently.    

"The article itself demonstrated that what was said was substantially true overall, at the time and under the circumstances," he said, according to the Record-Bee.

"We are extraordinarily pleased that it turned out as it did," publisher Gary Dickson told the newspaper. "The article was intended to be a good news story, and there was no intent to hurt anybody."

The motion to dismiss was granted under California’s anti-SLAPP (or Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) law, which protects against lawsuits seeking to chill free speech on public issues.