(CN) – A South Florida toxicology lab claims in court that CBS News published a report through multiple platforms in which an anonymous source was allowed to make multiple false and defamatory statements suggesting the lab engaged in illegal acts.
In a complaint filed on May 14 but not docketed until Monday in Broward County, Florida, Reliance Laboratory Testing Inc. says CBS ruined the reputation of the lab and the people and entities associated with it.
Reliance Laboratory Testing is a licensed laboratory that processes drug test specimens ordered by health care providers. It is accredited by the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of the federal government, the Agency for Health Care Administration of Florida and COLA, a private lab-accrediting organization.
Reliance, which is represented by Jocelyn Ezratty from Di Pietro Partners LLP and Levi Williams of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, claims that CBS News failed to verify that the information that it obtained from an unknown source was true and correct.
According to the complaint, CBS alleged it received an email from an unknown source containing transcript and audio recording made by Dylan Smith, chief executive officer of a drug- and substance-rehabilitation and recovery center in Jacksonville, in which Reliance was accused of unlawful conduct.
“Defendants CBS Broadcasting Inc. and CBS News Inc. purports that defendant Smith speaks on behalf of plaintiff Reliance, even though he is not and never was an employee, contractor, officer or agent of Reliance,” the complaint says.
Reliance claims that it never authorized Smith to speak on its behalf.
The anonymous source allegedly created an email address just to send slanderous information to CBS, accusing Reliance of improper conduct and damaging the reputation of its lab.
“This false information comes from a source that does not carry credibility, nor does the anonymous nature of the submission provides confidence that actions were taken by the defendants to verify any of the information allegedly on the audio recording,” the complaint continues.
The complaint claims that the email also contains inaccurate court documents related to a “bankruptcy litigation involving a Campbellton Graceville-CGC hospital.”
The anonymous source identified himself as a previous manager of Campbellton Graceville-CGC hospital, who has a pending litigation in the bankruptcy court and has had a business relationship with Reliance.
Reliance says that on May 10 it received an email from Emily Rand, a CBS investigative news producer, informing the laboratory that CBS wanted to air a report that explains how the toxicology business was inappropriately created.
“Defendants have negligently and maliciously made false statements about plaintiff and the circumstances surrounding plaintiff’s business deals,” the complaint says.
Reliance is seeking compensatory damages and injunctive relief on claims of defamation.
A representative of CBS did not immediately respond to email and phone requests for comment on the litigation.