Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP Represents Stanford University Experts Standing Up Against Public Health Misinformation

By: 
Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP
Published on:
September 24, 2020

On September 9, 2020, a group of 105 Stanford University doctors, scientists, and public health experts issued a “Dear Colleague” letter denouncing the falsehoods and misinformation surrounding the pandemic recently fostered by Dr. Scott Atlas, an advisor to President Trump, member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and senior fellow at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. 

On September 16, 2020, the Stanford University experts who signed that letter received a response from Dr. Scott Atlas (represented by Marc Kasowitz) threatening them with legal action for defamation if they did not withdraw their claims. 

On September 18, 2020, represented by Roberta Kaplan and Joshua Matz of Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP, the Stanford University experts responded to this threat from Dr. Atlas. You can read their response here. It makes clear that Dr. Atlas has no credible basis for asserting a defamation claim. It also emphasizes that Dr. Atlas's threat is both improper and outrageous: "The people of this nation are looking to the White House Coronavirus Task Force to stop the spread of a disease that has already killed far too many of us—nearly 200,000 to date. We respectfully suggest that Dr. Atlas focus more on doing his job successfully and less on attacking our nation’s scientists."

On September 23, 2020, the Stanford faculty issued this statement: “We are a group of 105 doctors, scientists, and public health experts and faculty members at Stanford University who, on September 9th, expressed our serious concerns about statements made by Scott Atlas, currently a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford and now an advisor to the White House Coronavirus Task Force. We believe that his statements and the advice he has been giving fosters misunderstandings of established science and risks undermining critical public health efforts. Today, we stand by our September 9th letter and reaffirm our concerns. In addition, we are deeply troubled by the legal threats that Dr. Atlas has made against us in an attempt to intimidate and silence us in the midst of a pandemic, as we speak out on important public health issues. We stand together and we reiterate clearly and with great affirmation that public health policy must be guided by established scientific principles and not opinions, especially ones that could harm individuals and the health of our nation.”

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