12 September 2017

Defamation suit settled without fisticuffs

Medicolegal Sport

Two doctors have settled a rare defamation scrap which had been sparked by disagreement over a high-profile boxing match in which one of the boxers was apparently concussed.  

Sydney GP Dr Lou Lewis was accused of defaming Dr John O’Neill in remarks he made after the February bout between boxers Danny Green and Anthony Mundine, at which Dr O’Neill was the officiating doctor.  

Dr Lewis, the second ringside doctor at the match, judged Green was concussed in the first round and the bout should be stopped. But he was overruled by the referee and by Dr O’Neill.  

“I said to the referee: ‘Are you stopping the fight? The referee said ‘no’ … and I said: ‘I’m having nothing more to do with this fight’,” Dr Lewis told the ABC after the fight. Speaking to another media outlet, he said the fight was a “disgrace”.  

Dr O’Neill’s legal team pressed several imputations arising from Dr Lewis’s remarks, including that the plaintiff had “negligently endangered Danny Green’s life by allowing him to continue fighting … when Mr Green obviously had concussion” and that the plaintiff was “recklessly indifferent to the welfare of Danny Green”.

But the dispute was stalled in the NSW Supreme Court in June, when Justice Lucy McCallum ordered Dr O’Neill’s legal team to re-plead their claim to correct ambiguities in other imputations.  

The matter was resolved last week, with both parties walking away and paying their own costs. 

“The case was resolved at mediation and it reached a satisfactory conclusion,” Dr Lewis told The Medical Republic. 

The 45-year veteran of various medical roles in boxing, who goes by the motto “when in doubt, stop the bout”, said he was happy that his life was back to normal.  

“I will continue to do all my roles in the boxing game, and I will continue to comment on topics relevant to your readers,” the prolific letter writer said.  

In the controversial match, Green went on to score a victory on points, winning a $1 million purse, but admitted after the fight that he “didn’t know if I was Arthur or Martha” after the blow from Mundine in the first round.  

While it is highly unusual for a doctor to sue another for defamation over a matter of professional disagreement, in boxing circles it may be without precedent.  Lawyers contacted by The Medical Republic said they could not recall a similar case.  

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3 Comments on "Defamation suit settled without fisticuffs"

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Vivienne
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Vivienne
10 days 4 minutes ago

so glad it was to everyone’s satisfaction this was settled…esp the lawyers of the Supreme Court.

martin wild
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martin wild
10 days 24 minutes ago

I think it would be best if no Doctor made himself available to be in attendance at a sport specifically designed to injure your opponent. I have no problem with Olympic style boxing with head gear and stricter rules . Many football codes have body contact but the aim of those sports in primarily to use the ball to score points,injuries are not the aim of the game unlike professional boxing.

Lou Lewis
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Lou Lewis
9 days 19 hours ago
Hi Martin, Unfortunately Olympic style boxing is moving away from the wearing of headgear and are becoming less rigid in their rules. I totally disagree with this, as I think it is a retrograde step for amateur boxing. With your point about having no doctors at ringside would not stop boxing from continuing, rather it would go underground and then we will see severe injuries and even deaths occurring ,as used to happen in the bad old days before the sport, in New South Wales, was fully regulated. On occasion a tragedy occurs but no boxer goes into the ring… Read more »
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