A lawsuit concerning a patient’s privacy

From Publisher’s Marketplace:

In a complaint filed in Rhode Island federal court on March 16 and obtained by Courthouse News, Gabrielle Lisnoff claimed that Dr. Michael Stein, who treated her for drug addiction between 2005 and 2010, violated her privacy by using “her most private, embarrassing, and traumatizing memories in order to surreptitiously obtain material” for his book THE ADDICT: One Patient, One Doctor, One Year”, published in 2009 by William Morrow. “During the course of purporting to treat the plaintiff, the defendant elicited private facts and stories from her and probed into her personal affairs,” Lisnoff said in the complaint. “Subsequently, without the plaintiff’s knowledge or permission, the defendant authored and caused to be published the aforementioned book about her life and history with drug addiction.”

Lisnoff said she only found out about Stein’s book when she “was conducting online research for a college class”, subsequently purchased it and discovered, to her “shock, surprise and dismay, many of the stories contained in the book were quoted from what she had told the defendant during her treatment sessions or were closely adapted from private facts that she had confidentially shared with him during her appointments with him for treatment.”

Lisnoff seeks in excess of $75,000 in punitive damages for “intrusion upon seclusion, appropriation of name or likeness, unreasonable publicity to her private life, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and a percentage of all profits from the book.” HarperCollins was not named in the lawsuit.

Did the doctor use Lisnoff’s real name in the book? I doubt it. This lawsuit therefore recalls a dim memory from maybe the ’70s or ’80s when a famous author was sued over a novel which fictionalized a real New Age therapeutic community and its denizens.

If I remember, she lost the lawsuit. It sent a big chill throughout the entire publishing world. I don’t remember what the upshot was, nor do I understand how this kind of case connects with the highly publicized cases of authors like Greg Mortensen who allegedly paint layers of fiction over their non-fictional narratives.

It’s interesting.

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