Reporters Banned From Dentist's Dallas Mansion
DALLAS (CN) - A dentist accused of Medicare fraud won a restraining order against the real estate reporter and Belo-owned television station that he claims have defamed him.
Judge Sally Montgomery, of Dallas County Court at Law No. 3, granted Richard Malouf a temporary restraining order on Friday.
The order bans WFAA-TV, its investigative reporter Byron Harris and real estate reporter Mary Candace Evans from coming within 50 feet of his mansion. It also bans them from taking images of the property.
Malouf sued the trio last week, alleging trespass, invasion of privacy, defamation, libel, slander and conspiracy. Claiming that he was falsely accused of fraud, Malouf says the reporters ran approximately 40 stories about him and his home in the past year, alleging that he filed for personal bankruptcy while building a massive water park in his backyard.
Malouf also sued his neighbor Laura Wilson, who is also mother to actors Owen and Luke Wilson, claiming that she helped Evans crawl onto her roof to take more photos of the Malouf home. The pictures allegedly appeared on Evans' websites or in conjunction with WFAA television broadcasts.
Federal prosecutors said in March that Malouf and the dental chain he partially owns, All Smiles Dental Center, agreed to pay $1.2 million to settle Medicare fraud claims.
"The U.S. and Texas contend All Smiles submitted improper Medicaid claims between 2004 and 2007 for orthodontic related-items and services that were not furnished or rendered, were unbundled and/or not properly documented," prosecutors said in March.
"In April 2010, Dr. Malouf settled potential allegations with the Dallas County District Attorney by repaying ... more than $46,000 for certain orthodontic claims and agreeing not to submit claims to Texas Medicaid for an 18-month period. Dr. Malouf did not admit any wrongdoing or liability as part of that agreement."
The same day Montgomery entered the restraining order, Evans moved to dismiss the lawsuit, claiming protection under the First Amendment.
"Each communication forming the basis of the plaintiffs' claims, if undertaken by the defendant, was done in the exercise of the right to free speech, right of association or right to petition and was constitutionally protected," the four-page motion states. "The plaintiffs' causes of action were brought to deter and/or prevent the defendant from exercising her constitutional rights, was brought for an improper purpose, and was brought to embarrass and harass the defendant."