March 21, 2015
“North Little Rock Neurosurgeon Sues Former Patient For Defamation”
Jessica Hauser, Log Cabin Democrat
A North Little Rock neurosurgeon is suing a former patient for defamation after the patient protested and distributed pages of negative comments about him at his Conway location on Dave Ward Drive.
Dr. James Calhoun of Central Arkansas Neurosurgery has filed a lawsuit against James Blazier, requesting a jury trial and compensatory damages for the toll his actions have taken on the physician’s practice.
“This man is going around lying and slandering and defaming [Calhoun] and hurting his practice when he has done nothing wrong. We’ve given him every opportunity to stop, and he won’t,” said Attorney Tre Kitchens, who represents Calhoun. He said the lawsuit is a response to not only the protest, but also to the damage that Blazier has caused Calhoun’s practice as a result of contacting patients with false claims about the neurosurgeon.
The documents filed in Pulaski County Circuit Court read that Blazier made false claims about a procedure Calhoun performed on his C6-7 and C5-6 vertebrae to the Log Cabin Democrat, citizens who witnessed the protest, patients in the waiting room of Calhoun’s office, Representative French Hill, and Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton.
Blazier said one of the vertebra was broken, but Calhoun said he and another neurosurgeon agreed that an X-ray of the area showed no breakage.
“In today’s world, people feel emboldened to say whatever they want, and that’s not the law,” Kitchens said. “You can’t defame somebody, you can’t run your mouth about something that’s not true, and there are consequences for those actions.”
Blazier filed a complaint with the Arkansas Medical Board on Feb. 1, 2013, requesting an investigation into the matter. According to a document from the board, members of the board addressed the complaint at their meeting on April 4 and 5, 2013, and they found no evidence of violation of the Arkansas Medical Practices Act.
Blazier said he asked other neurosurgeons to interpret the X-ray, but each physician he contacted declined to interfere on another physician’s care on the basis of “professional courtesy.”
“I’m glad for a jury trial,” said Blazier, a U.S. Navy veteran. “I’ve been waiting a long time to get in front of the right people. I’m just thankful to the U.S. taxpayers who made it possible for me to get care from the Department of Veterans Affairs. They’ve gotten me to where I am now.”
He said he has contacted Sen. Jason Rapert regarding legislation requiring physicians to disclose errors made during medical procedures, extending the statute of limitations for filing malpractice suits and changing policies on medical licensing in Arkansas.
“I don’t think he has any business practicing medicine in Arkansas given his history,” he said.
According to a stipulated order signed by Calhoun, Calhoun surrendered his Oregon medical license in 2004 after pleading guilty to a class A misdemeanor harassment charge.
“What happened over a decade ago in another state has nothing to do with Mr. Blazier,” Kitchens said. “My client has worked very hard to build his reputation here, and he’s a good doctor. He’s a caring doctor. Now we have to take measures to preserve that reputation.”
A motion hearing has been set for April 2 in Pulaski County Circuit Court.