TAMPA — A Tampa physician has filed a libel suit against the Tampa Bay Times and its parent company over newspaper stories and a headline about her arrest on drug charges.
In a suit filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court on April 9, Tampa doctor Christina Paylan, 45, accused the Times Publishing Co. and two of its employees of producing stories that "created news instead of reporting the news" and of using her photo without authorization.
The suit, which Paylan filed on her own without a lawyer, said the Times "publicly assassinated" Paylan in stories published in the Times and its free tabloid newspaper, tbt*, in 2011 and 2012. The suit said the stories contained false information, material omissions and misrepresentations.
Paylan was director of Cosmetic Surgery of Tampa Bay at 3230 W Kennedy Blvd. at the time of her arrest.
In addition, Paylan said the headline "Dr. Demerol" published on the front page of tbt* was used "out of ill will and malice towards Dr. Paylan and for the sole purpose of ruining her reputation in the medical community."
Alison Steele, attorney for Times Publishing, said the newspaper stood by its stories.
"We think the suit is totally without merit," Steele said. "The Times will vigorously defend" itself.
In June 2011, authorities accused Paylan of illegally possessing Demerol, an addictive narcotic similar to morphine, for personal use. Paylan also was charged with trafficking hydrocodone and possessing Valium and Xanax.
Those charges were dropped in December 2011 after prosecutors said Paylan said she had accidentally taken home from her office syringes and empty boxes of drug samples. Doctors are allowed to keep drug samples, prosecutors said. The Times reported on both the arrest and the dropping of the charges.
Paylan still faces criminal charges of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, as well as fraudulent use of personal information. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges.