PHYCOR managed the Guthrie Clinic, where Ferenzi practices medicine, until November 1998. The company is seeking more than $1 million in damages from the doctor, who practices in Guthrie's North Towanda office.
The unique lawsuit, filed by attorney Bruce Fischman of Miami and attorneys Daniel Brier and Donna A. Walsh of Scranton last week, alleges Ferenzi posted a barrage of false, virulent, obscene and acrimonious statements on Yahoo's PHYCOR message board.
Using the alias "Cyber Jack," the defendant allegedly used terms like "dead dog," "dead meat," "devil," "goon," "Mafia," and "slave camp" to characterize PHYCOR.
Ferenzi told The Review Thursday that he has no idea why PHYCOR is targeting him and he intends to fight the charges.
"I'm aware of the lawsuit being filed and I deny every allegation and will fiercely defend myself," he said. "I was surprised and shocked to be named in the lawsuit. I'm unaware of any reason for this suit."
The lawsuit also alleges that Ferenzi posted messages on the website claiming PHYCOR was declaring bankruptcy; was unable to make payroll; was being investigated by several government agencies; had destroyed medical clinics and engaged in unusual accounting practices; and was under review for purchase by the Ku Klux Klan, the Cuban government and the Bank of Iraq.
Fischman said he did not know Ferenzi's motive for allegedly making the postings.
He described Ferenzi's actions as "vicious" and said the defendant's Internet postings severely damaged the reputations of both PHYCOR and its executives.
Fischman said the lawsuit is unique in that it involves an anonymous person libeling someone else through the electronic media. He argued an Internet user is subject to the same defamation laws as anyone else, even if he or she uses an alias.
The suits says PHYCOR unmasked "Cyber Jack" by filing a John Doe lawsuit in Circuit Court in Rutherford County, Tenn., and then used the suit as a vehicle to serve a subpoena on Yahoo, an Internet provider that placed PHYCOR's message board on the Web.
The subpoena sought information from Yahoo on the individual known as "Cyber Jack." PHYCOR learned from Yahoo that "Cyber Jack" received Internet service from Cyber-Quest Inc., an Internet provider in Sayre.
The suit says PHYCOR then served Cyber-Quest with a subpoena requesting the identity of the person posting as "Cyber Jack." Cyber-Quest then identified the user as Ferenzi.
The suit asks for compensatory as well as punitive damages from Ferenzi on
each of the three counts alleging defamation and trade libel.
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