The development of the process of insult and defamation related litigations in favor of media is mainly due to the coherence of the media and their adherence to the principles. This, indeed, can become decisive for the solution of the dispute. From this aspect it’s worth comparing the approaches of two media outlets- the “News.am” analytical news agency and the “Aravot” daily towards the conflict with the Arrhythmology Cardiology Center of Armenia.
The claim filed by the Arrhythmology Cardiology Center of Armenia against the founder of the “News.am” analytical news agency was taken into production on December 27, 2010. The claim is based on the article “The Arrythmology center cheated the patient with heart disease and installed another device” about the Armenian citizen Hovhannes Katrjyan, published on November 23, 2010. The latter accused the medical center for having cheated him by installing (during an operation) a cheap device instead of an electro-cardio stimulator with a 10-year warranty. The plaintiff considered that the “News.am” defamed its honor and business reputation and demanded a disclaimer and compensation of AMD 2 million.
The litigation lasting nearly 2 years is still ongoing; the regular hearing is scheduled for November 30. This may be the last hearing before the decision release. However, during the hearings held in October interesting developments were fixed. Hovhannes Katrjyan, who had been invited as a witness upon the respondent’s request, confirmed the truthfulness of the information provided to the correspondent of the “News.am.” Besides this, he introduced a decision on launching criminal proceedings towards Smbat Jalalyan, who had been the head of the Arrhythmology Cardiology Center for that period of time.
The criminal case was filed by the Erebuni Investigation Department of the RA Police based on Point 1 of Article 130 of the Penal Code of Armenia (Failure to implement or improper implementation of professional duties by medical and support personnel). Smbat Jalalyan is currently under investigation though. Besides this, Hovhannes Katrjyan introduced a document concerning the results of medical expertise, according to which electro-cardio stimulator installed by the doctors of the cardiology center had a 5-year warranty instead of 10. This one is much cheaper, indeed.
Such course of the litigation may probably result in the rejection of the claim. This was also affirmed by the attorney of the “News.am,” Aramazd Kiviryan. According to him, the demand is not lawful; the disputed publication contains neither any analysis nor a value judgment, and the journalist has introduced conscientiously the information provided by the person suffered in the incident. The representative also refers to the existence of the criminal case and its circumstances.
The course of the litigation against the “News.am” makes us remember the similar claim filed by the same cardiology center against the “Aravot” daily. Based on the same information provided by Hovhannes Katrjyan, the journalist of the “Aravot,” Hripsime Jebejyan published an article entitled “Pays for 10 years of life, receives seven. Doctors lie to patient and to state?” (13.11.2010). The trial of this case finished with an agreement on reconciliation, according to which the “Aravot” published a disclaimer and the response of Smbat Jalalyan on October 4, 2011. On December 7, 2011, a criminal case was filed towards the latter.
Didn’t the “Aravot” make haste? The number of claims filed against media can decrease also due to the coherence of media during the protection of its rights. Eventually, the plaintiffs must think for ten times before acting.