AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin dentist is suing several national media outlets for alleged defamation more than a year after a toddler died following a visit to his office.
Michael Melanson is suing The Nancy Grace Show, CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting, CBS Television and the Daily Mail.
Fourteen-month-old Daisy Lynn Torres died after going under anesthesia at Austin Children’s Dentistry in northwest Austin last year.
Melanson claims those media outlets portrayed him as causing the death of the child by treating dental disease that did not exist. Earlier this year the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners cleared Melanson of any wrongdoing.
The lawsuit claims that on Sept. 1, 2016, on the Nancy Grace Show, the program’s namesake repeated “defamatory and injurious” statements that Torres “died in the dentist’s chair” while “an autopsy reveals little Daisy didn’t even need this procedure.”
Torres died on March 29, 2016. A report from a forensic dental examiner, Dr. Robert Williams, questioned why the child was having a dental procedure before she died. The report prompted Austin Children’s Dentistry to suspend Dr. Melanson.
In February, Daisy Lynn’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the practice, the dentist, the anesthesiologist and the company he works for, Texas Anesthesiology Association.
The lawsuit claims the girl’s death was part of a corporate scheme to bill Medicaid for unnecessary dental procedures.
“Dr. Melanson genuinely regrets that the statements and publications of a few Defendants following the Torres incident left him and his family with no choice but to take legal action in addition to that already pending against Dr. Williams,” an attorney for Melanson said in a statement.
“It is truly unfortunate that certain reporting related to this tragic and heart-rending occurrence has only elevated and exacerbated the situation through careless, if not irresponsible and reckless, statements which appear to have been made in an attempt to increase profits and ratings without providing due consideration for accuracy, integrity, respect and fairness.”