PHOENIX (CN) – An Arizona jazz singer owes $12 million to a husband-wife plastic surgery team she defamed with online complaints, as part of a campaign to damage the doctors’ business, a jury ruled.
Albert Carlotti and Michelle Cabret-Carlotti, of the Desert Palm Surgical Group in Scottsdale, Ariz., sued Sherry Petta in 2008 for defamation and libel per se after Petta created a website to complain about her treatment by the Carlottis. She also posted similar complaints on other sites and “posted or caused to be posted on these websites that Drs. Carlotti are not licensed with the Arizona Board of Medical Examiners,” according to the Carlottis’ original complaint.
The Carlottis said that Petta was a notoriously difficult patient and that they had to file an injunction of harassment to keep her away from their offices.
Petta “repeatedly screamed at the Desert Palm Surgical Group’s staff, refused to follow instructions for medical care, and obtained contra-indicated care by others without first disclosing the care to plaintiffs,” according to the complaint.
Albert Carlotti said he eventually made Petta agree in writing, on threat of refusing to treat her, that she would stop screaming and using profanity and have no “unauthorized” care. But Petta allegedly continued to act out, leading the Scottsdale Police Department to issue a trespassing warning.
A jury in Maricopa County Superior Court sided with the doctors, awarding $11 million in actual damages and $1 million in punitive damages.
Petta, a popular jazz performer in the Phoenix area, told the Arizona Republic on Dec. 16 that she plans to appeal the case.