Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Court Dismisses Defamation Lawsuit Brought By Researcher Against Physician Who Criticized Intercessory Prayer Study

That defamation lawsuit brought by Dr. Kwang Cha against Dr. Bruce Flamm over Dr. Flamm's statements regarding Dr. Cha's intercessory prayer study, the results of which were published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine in 2001 has been dismissed again. Judge James Dunn originally granted Dr. Flamm's anti-SLAPP motion last year, then reinstated the suit after Dr. Cha's attorneys convinced him he should hear further evidence before granting Dr. Flamm's motion. On April 21, he finally ruled in favor of Dr. Flamm. Here's part of a news release issued on the ruling.

In 2001, a study was published in the Journal of Reproductive Medicine claiming that prayers from the USA, Canada, and Australia caused a 100% increase in pregnancy rates among infertility patients in Korea. The surprising results announced by Kwang Cha and associates were widely reported in the news media, including on the ABC news program Good Morning America. The following year, the study's credibility was undermined when one of the co-authors, Daniel Wirth, was arrested by the FBI and later pled guilty to fraud. Cha's other co-author, Columbia University's Rogerio Lobo, later revealed that he had not participated in the research and withdrew his name from the published

Even with one of his co-authors in federal prison and the other disgraced, Korean fertility specialist Kwang Yul Cha stood by the supernatural study. He eventually filed a defamation lawsuit against Bruce Flamm, a California physician who had published several articles questioning the validity of the Cha/Wirth report. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court in August 2007, was thrown out last November but reinstated in January. The lawsuit has now been definitively dismissed.

In response to the ruling, Dr. Flamm issued the following statement: "Today's ruling is a victory for science and freedom of speech. Scientists must be allowed to question bizarre claims and correct errors. Cha's mysterious study was designed and allegedly conducted by a man who turned out to be a criminal with a 20-year history of fraud. A criminal who steals the identities of dead children to obtain bank loans and passports is not a trustworthy source of research data. Cha could have simply admitted this obvious fact but instead he hired Beverly Hills lawyers to punish me for
voicing my opinions."


Here's a roundup of the history of the case, from the Citizen Media Law Project.

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