Re: Free Speech on the Histonet

From:Geoff McAuliffe

    Well folks I decided to weigh in with my $0.02 worth of opinion. The few
vendors making threats are doing just that, making threats. This is ALL about
INTIMIDATION. Could anyone of us be sued for expressing an honest opinion on
Histonet (or anyplace else)? Perhaps in theory but very unlikely to impossible
in practice. Yes, anyone can file a lawsuit over just about anything, we see it
every day. However, the vendor has to find a lawyer to take the case. The
lawyer will look at the time he/she will have to invest and the chances of
winning and the chances of collecting a meaningful settlement, not to mention
the bad PR.
    We as individuals probably won't be sued, we were offering an opinion in
our professional capacity AND we don't have the "deep pockets" necessary to
justify the time and money of the suit. So maybe our institutions will be sued.
Of course they have lawyers and insurance for such events. Even if this gets to
court a judge is going to ask the plantiff how someone saying "I prefer XYZ
processor to ABC processor" different from saying "I prefer a Ford over a
Chevy"? In our capatalist society competition is a fact of business life. Look
at all of the commercials that say "this brand is best". Also, the standards
for slander/libel are pretty high, otherwise all of the supermarket tabloids
that print all of that ridiculous stuff would be broke and out business. There
is also a legal concept of "malicious prosecution" (sorry, that is the criminal
term, I don't know the civil term) by which you or your institution can
countersue for the vendor's malicious action (sueing just to shut you up when
they had no case).
    So their lawyer might write a letter to our supervisor and make vague
threats. Are you going to get in trouble/suspended/fired over such an incident?
I don't know but I would think that you would have to be on pretty slipery
ground already.
    I'm done.

"Barnhart, Tammy" wrote:

> I realize many people wish this "vendor" thing would just go away, but I
> feel we are dealing with a bigger issue here.  Without the freedom to
> express our views, favored procedures and past experiences (both good and
> BAD) how is this forum going to survive?  I will lose it's purpose of being
> an open, interactive forum.  If I become afraid to say that in my
> experience, product A works better than product B, what good is it to
> express my ideas at all?  Many people ask," whose product works better for
> you?"  I am now afraid to answer, I might get sued.  Or my administrator
> will receive a nasty, threatening phone call.  Vendors (except those that
> produce the finest products) stand only to lose if the Histonet exists.  We
> are a user's group that can, through the free exchange of experiences, help
> weed out the bad products and equipment from the good.  Leaves only a few
> vendors left, eh?  If their products can not stand up to our (histologists)
> practical experiences, than it is their job to better their products.  Not
> our's to shut up and not tell anyone.  Think about it, are we ready to give
> up this forum?
> Tammy Barnhart, BS, HTL(ASCP)
> Anatomic Pathology Supervisor
> St. Alexius Medical Center
> Bismarck, ND
>   Oh Yea,  The above opinions are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect
> the opinions of my employer.

Geoff McAuliffe, Ph.D.
Neuroscience and Cell Biology
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
675 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854
voice: (732)-235-4583; fax: -4029

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