A libel lawsuit filed by Mount Kisco Lyme disease physician Daniel Cameron has been dismissed because the complaint was filed in the wrong place.
Last year, Cameron sued Florida medical activist and blogger Jann Bellamy for $1 million in White Plains federal court, for allegedly depicting him as a predator who preys on Lyme disease patients for financial gain.
U.S. District Judge Vincent L. Briccetti did not rule on the merits of Cameron’s complaint but he granted Bellamy’s motion to dismiss “for lack of personal jurisdiction.”
Cameron’s medical practice focuses on tick-borne diseases such as Lyme, and he has been active in a medical association that has issued treatment guidelines for chronic Lyme disease.
Bellamy, a retired lawyer who is a founder of the Society for Science-Based Medicine, contends that there is no such disease as chronic Lyme and that long-term use of antibiotics to treat these patients can be harmful.
In 2017, the New York Board for Professional Medical Conduct accused Cameron of professional misconduct for his handling of seven patients. Cameron denied the allegations but then signed a consent agreement that put him on probation for three years. He was allowed to continue his practice under several restrictions.
Bellamy published an account of the disciplinary action on the Society for Science-Based Medicine website.
Though Cameron is board certified in internal medicine, she said, he has no fellowship training or certification in infectious diseases.
“Cameron had only one tool, a hammer, so he saw every problem as a nail,” Bellamy wrote. “The possibility that the patient might be suffering from something other than ‘chronic Lyme’ was tossed aside via inadequate physical exams and medical records, failing to consider other diagnoses, and bulldozing ahead with inappropriate long-term antibiotics, adverse conditions be damned.”
Cameron sued. Her assertions, he argued, are libelous, and her description of the consent agreement is false.
Bellamy, a Florida resident, responded that New York courts do not have jurisdiction over her.
Cameron’s attorney, Jacques G. Simon, of Jericho, Long Island, countered that the state’s “long arm statute” does allow New York state and federal courts to assert jurisdiction when out-of-state defendants transact business in New York.
Bellamy wrote articles aimed at residents of New York, he argued. Her research was based on a consent agreement issued in New York. And the website allows New Yorkers to comment on articles and donate money to cover its expenses.
But posting material on a website accessible in New York does not constitute transacting business in the state, Briccetti noted, citing legal precedent. There must be a connection or substantial relationship between the transaction and the particular claim.
Briccetti found that Cameron’s argument, that his reputation and business were specifically targeted, is entirely conclusory. Bellamy’s reliance on documents published in New York does not mean she had contacts in New York. And website interactions with users are not enough to establish in-state business transactions.
“Indeed, it is undisputed (that) defendant researched and wrote the articles in Florida,” Briccetti ruled. “Plaintiff has failed to allege defendant transacts business in New York.”