St. Luke's sues Duluth News Tribune over surgeon storySt. Luke’s hospital and its CEO, John Strange, have initiated a suit against the Duluth News Tribune, accusing the newspaper of defamation in its reporting about neurosurgeon Stefan Konasiewicz. Also named in the lawsuit are investigations editor Brandon Stahl and reporter Mark Stodghill.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
St. Luke’s hospital and its CEO, John Strange, have initiated a suit against the Duluth News Tribune, accusing the newspaper of defamation in its reporting about neurosurgeon Stefan Konasiewicz. Also named in the lawsuit are investigations editor Brandon Stahl and reporter Mark Stodghill.
Konasiewicz was on staff at St. Luke’s hospital from 1997 until 2008. He currently practices neurosurgery in Corpus Christi, Texas.
While at St. Luke’s, Konasiewicz and St. Luke’s were sued at least nine times for malpractice. St. Luke’s and Konasiewicz settled six malpractice suits for a total of at least $3.2 million, records show. Two suits involved patients who died and one was by a woman who was left a quadriplegic. In 2010, the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice sanctioned Konasiewicz for “unethical and unprofessional conduct.”
St. Luke’s issued a statement this week that said, in part: “This defamation lawsuit was brought because our patients, dedicated staff and community deserve to know the truth and not be misled and misinformed by these false reports.”
In its defamation complaint, St. Luke’s said the News Tribune’s coverage was false and defamatory, including the July 31 article headlined “As Duluth hospital reaped millions, surgeon racked up complaints.”
The July 31 article quoted sources who said St. Luke’s hospital administration was aware of the harm Konasiewicz was alleged to have caused and yet continued to let him practice.
The hospital’s complaint also said the News Tribune misled sources, published
statements it knew were false and quoted doctors who have a financial motive to harm St. Luke’s, including doctors at competitors Orthopedic Associates and Northland Neurology and Myology.
St. Luke’s seeks at least $50,000 and a full retraction of the stories.
News Tribune Publisher Ken Browall said in a statement: “The stories portrayed what is unquestionably a matter of public safety and concern. We look forward to proceeding to court and the dismissal of this unwarranted complaint.”