Dental Tribune International

SmileDirectClub files lawsuit against NBCUniversal Media

By Dental Tribune International
May 21, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn., U.S.: Oral care company and provider of a direct-to-consumer medical technology platform for tooth straightening SmileDirectClub (SDC) has announced that it has filed a lawsuit seeking approximately $2.8 billion from NBCUniversal Media (NBC) and reporter Vicky Nguyen for knowingly and intentionally making factually inaccurate, misleading and defamatory claims about the company on NBC Nightly News.

The Feb. 13, 2020, NBC Nightly News report contained more than 40 false and misleading statements about SDC and the treatment patients receive from the hundreds of board-certified dentists who use the company’s platform to treat patients, SDC claimed in the lawsuit filed at the state courthouse in Nashville. SDC’s reputation was wrongly sullied and its business unjustly harmed as a result of the NBC story, according to the suit.

“The breadth of its misconduct is staggering,” the company said in the 205-page lawsuit. “NBC misled its viewers and readers about the safety of the treatment that patients receive when using SDC’s platform, the involvement of licensed dentists and orthodontists in the treatment of patients when using SDC’s platform, and the benefits that patients receive when they are treated using SDC’s platform. Incredibly, nearly everything that NBC stated and implied about SDC in its broadcast and online report was factually inaccurate.”

As a direct result of NBC’s report, SDC’s market capitalization plummeted by $950 million, according to the company. SDC is seeking to recover treble the damages, pursuant to the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.

“SDC gave NBC every opportunity to retract this defamatory report and correct the record voluntarily. NBC choose not to so. At that point, the company had no choice but to bring this lawsuit to defend its brand and the reputation of hundreds of doctors who are using SDC’s telehealth platform to treat patients every day,” said J. Erik Connolly, vice chair of the litigation practice group at Benesch, Friedlander, Coplan & Aronoff and outside counsel for SDC. “With this lawsuit, SDC is not just holding NBC accountable for its misconduct, but it is also telling its affiliated doctors and shareholders that SDC stands by their side and will fight to protect their interests and reputations.”

According to the lawsuit, prior to NBC publishing its reports, SDC made available to NBC hundreds of pages of documents demonstrating the safety and effectiveness, and benefits, of the treatment patients receive using the company’s telehealth platform. Additionally, SDC made senior officers available to NBC to answer questions and arranged interviews with dentists who treat patients using SDC’s platform, as well as with many of the more than 750,000 patients whose lives have been changed for the better as a result of the treatment they received.

“NBC must be held accountable for its abuse of power and betrayal of trust,” it says in the lawsuit. “Viewers and readers across the country turn to the media for the information they need to make decisions about their health and well-being. NBC abused their trust by publishing reports about SDC that were littered with false and misleading statements. NBC’s misconduct not only financially injured SDC, but it also prevented patients from seeking the affordable treatment they need for their orthodontic problems and caused investors to lose millions, if not billions, of dollars.”

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