SMITH et al.
C. J., MILLER, P. J., and REESE, J.
Miller, Presiding Judge.
appeal, we must determine whether the trial court properly
found that the defendant doctor was entitled to summary
judgment on the plaintiff doctor's claim of defamation
per se based on the defendant's transmission of a letter
to patients in which the defendant called into question the
plaintiff's ability to practice medicine. For the reasons
that follow, we reverse the trial court's order and
remand the case for further proceedings.
appeal from a grant of summary judgment, we review the
evidence de novo to determine whether the trial court erred
in concluding that no genuine issue of fact remains and that
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of
law." (Citation omitted.) Chapman v. C. C. Dickson
Co., 273 Ga.App. 640, 641 (1) (616 S.E.2d 478) (2005).
viewed, the evidence shows that Cenegenics is a company that
provides age management services throughout the country and
operates a clinic in Atlanta through CG Physicians, LLC
("CG Physicians"). Dr. Randy Smith is the sole
shareholder of CG Physicians and at all relevant times was a
licensed physician. Cenegenics and CG Physicians formed a
management company to handle the administrative duties of the
2013, at Cenegenics' insistence, Smith stopped seeing
patients at the Atlanta clinic and directed his focus to
business development. Dr. Lisa DiFrancesco and another
physician were hired to take over patient care in the clinic.
In March 2014, Smith left Cenegenics altogether. He then
contacted at least some CG Physicians patients by e-mail to
offer his anti-aging programs.
least two of these patients contacted DiFrancesco, expressing
concern about the e-mails from Smith. DiFrancesco authorized
Cenegenics to send a letter to all CG Physicians patients to
address these concerns. In the letter, DiFrancesco made the
You may have received an e-mail from a physician by the name
of Dr. Randy Smith regarding your Cenegenics program. At one
time Dr. Smith was a physician with Cenegenics Atlanta.
We are contacting you so that you may make an informed
decision if Dr. Smith attempts to contact you to entice you
to discontinue your Cenegenics Age Management Program with me
. . . .
Dr. Smith is no longer authorized to offer the Cenegenics
Program . . . .
While Dr. Smith was an early pioneer in anti-aging medicine,
much has changed since his early days in the practice, and
a lot has changed over the last year since [Dr. Smith]
last had the ability to practice medicine.
If you would like more information about anything you may
hear or receive about changing your course of treatment,
please feel free to contact us.
(Emphasis supplied.) DiFrancesco sent this letter only to
patients of CG Physicians.
Smith sued DiFrancesco for defamation based on her letter to
CG Physicians' patients. He also requested equitable
relief and punitive damages. The trial court granted summary
judgment in favor of ...