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Doctor vs. doctor

Plastic surgeon claims colleagues attempted career sabotage

Dr. Jason Toranto a pediatric plastic and craniofacial surgeon, has filed suit in federal court against another doctor, Rady Children's Hospital, and the University of California, Irvine, for trying to ruin his career.

Toranto claims that a competing plastic surgeon, Dr. Daniel Jaffurs, has tried to ruin his reputation.

Toranto says Jaffurs has "a checkered professional record [of]…maligning and undermining the careers of surgeons he does not like."

Toranto is suing Jaffurs for monopoly, bad-faith professional review, retaliation, defamation, interference with prospective economic advantage, unfair competition, conspiracy in restraint of trade, and other transgressions.

Toranto says Jaffurs made defamatory statements that destroyed Toranto's career at the University of California School of Medicine and Children's Hospital of Orange County. Then, Toranto came to San Diego, and Jaffurs and colleagues did the same at Rady's Children's Hospital. A major reason for defaming Toranto was to maintain a monopoly over the field, according to the suit.

Jaffurs referred me to the UC-Irvine legal department, which did not respond to queries. Rady's Children's Hospital said it would not respond to questions about ongoing litigation.

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While most of us don't like to think that physicians can be cut-throat, this story could be true. Professional jealousy and a desire to get ahead by tearing the other guy down can happen anywhere. (University campuses are notorious for it.)

Of course, we don't know the competence of the various players in this dispute. Will it ever go to trial, or even to the point of depositions? The public likely will never know the outcome. And that's unfortunate if someone's reputation was actually maligned unfairly.

Visduh: This kind of alleged behavior occurs in just about every occupation. Careers can be destroyed in this fashion. How many people mistreated in this way will go to court to get justice? Few, I would guess. Best, Don Bauder

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