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Ravnikar v. Bogojavlensky

Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts

December 3, 2002, Argued ; February 3, 2003, Decided



 [*627]   [**509]  COWIN, J. The plaintiff, Veronica Ravnikar, complains that the defendant, Sergei Bogojavlensky, made false statements about her health in 1998. Initially the plaintiff filed suit in Middlesex Superior Court, but, because there was no reasonable likelihood [*628]  of recovery in excess of $ 25,000, the action was dismissed for lack of jurisdiction pursuant to St. 1996, c. 358, § 4. 1 The plaintiff then sued the defendant in the Newton Division of the District Court Department, alleging defamation, intentional interference with business relations, invasion of privacy (pursuant to G. L. c. 214, § 1B), and unfair competition (pursuant to G. L. c. 93A, § 11 [***2]  ). The defendant moved for summary judgment on all counts. In February, 2001, a District Court judge granted the defendant's motion without a written opinion. The plaintiff appealed to the Appellate Division of the District Court, which affirmed the decision of the District Court. The plaintiff appealed from the decision of the Appellate Division and we transferred the case from the Appeals Court on our own motion.

1. Background. ] We recite the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. See Harrison v. NetCentric Corp., 433 Mass. 465, 468, 744 N.E.2d 622 (2001). Both the plaintiff and the defendant are physicians specializing in obstetrics and gynecology who practice in Massachusetts. The plaintiff was diagnosed with *** cancer in 1995 and successfully treated. In 1997, a patient who was seeing the defendant for the [***3]  first time told him during an appointment that she was looking for a "new" gynecologist and she "was also going to see" the plaintiff. The defendant responded, "Oh, she's dying of *** cancer. It's such a shame. She's a young woman." After the patient stated that she would see the plaintiff anyway, the defendant reiterated that the plaintiff's condition was "terminal." The defendant later [**510]  conceded that, although he had learned from colleagues that the plaintiff had cancer, he had no reason to believe that the plaintiff was terminally ill. The patient eventually went to see the plaintiff and repeated the defendant's remarks. Although the plaintiff was upset by the defendant's statement, there is no evidence that the plaintiff lost any business or suffered any other monetary damage as a result of the comment.

The plaintiff argues in this court that summary judgment was [*629]  improperly entered on both the defamation and invasion of privacy claims. 2 We address each claim in turn.

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438 Mass. 627 *; 782 N.E.2d 508 **; 2003 Mass. LEXIS 114 ***; 16 A.L.R.6th 815


Subsequent History:  [***1]  As Corrected March 14, 2003.

Prior History: Middlesex. Civil action commenced in the Newton Division of the District Court Department on March 8, 1999. The case was heard by Dyanne J. Klein, J., on motions for summary judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.

Appellate Division's decision: Ravnikar v. Bogojavlensky, 2001 Mass. App. Div. 197, 2001 Mass. App. Div. LEXIS 64 (2001).

Disposition: Judgment Vacated and Remanded.


invasion of privacy, defamation, patient, summary judgment, civil action, exclusive jurisdiction, removal, cancer

Civil Procedure, Jurisdiction, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Amount in Controversy, General Overview, Jurisdiction Over Actions, Exclusive Jurisdiction, Summary Judgment, Entitlement as Matter of Law, Appeals, Appellate Briefs, Torts, Commercial Interference, Business Relationships, Opposing Materials, Intentional Torts, Defamation, Procedural Matters, Burdens of Proof, Remedies, Damages, Special Damages, Libel, Punitive Damages, Damages, Types of Damages, Punitive Damages, Concurrent Jurisdiction, Invasion of Privacy, Public Disclosure of Private Facts, Trials, Separate Trials