'Hugging therapy' doctor sues Huffington Post for defamation in Philly court even though she lives in Egypt

By Nicholas Malfitano | Sep 29, 2017

PHILADELPHIA – An Egyptian doctor and practitioner of feng shui has sued The Huffington Post, believing the online news agency libeled and defamed her through an article it published on its Arabic-language satellite website in September 2016.

Soha Eid of Egypt (c/o Karim Ibrahim of Pine Hill, N.J.) filed suit in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas on Sept. 13 versus TheHuffingtonPost.Com, Inc. of New York, N.Y.

In 2015, The Huffington Post launched “HuffPost Arabi”, an Arabic-language news website which reaches millions of followers in Arabic-speaking countries.

On Sept. 17, 2016, the lawsuit says the news agency published a story about how Eid was a psychiatrist who used “hugging therapy” with her patients in Egypt, a form of therapy not considered legitimate in the Arab world.

“To the contrary, Arabic culture renders such conduct disrespectful, offensive and shameful, showing poor character and violations of Arabic law. Accordingly, plaintiff was harmed by this article. Plaintiff was harassed and criticized by persons in the street, and questioned and charged by law enforcement in Egypt. Plaintiff’s business has ceased and has suffered exponentially, resulting in significant economic damages,” the suit says.

Eid viewed the story as libelous and defamatory, and as a false published account of her business practices, which caused damage to both her personal and professional reputation. Further, Eid claimed no one from The Huffington Post contacted her before publishing the story, which she says has been republished numerous times.

According to Eid's complaint, the lawsuit is being pursued in a Philadelphia court through the long-arm statute, alongside claiming The Huffington Post has personal jurisdiction through conducting business in the city. In order to support this assertion, it cites the news agency as operating a "HuffPost Philadelphia" website, which it receives targeted ad revenue from.

After the U.S. Supreme Court's recent ruling in its notable Bristol Myers-Squibb v. Superior Court of California case, proving a defendant's connection to a jurisdiction where it is neither nor incorporated nor headquartered may be difficult moving forward in applicable litigation.

The Huffington Post did not return a request for comment on the lawsuit. 

For counts of defamation, false light invasion of privacy, the plaintiff is seeking a full retraction of the article and removal of all traces of the false and defamatory statements and article; compensatory damages in excess of $50,000, plus interest, costs, attorney’s fees, punitive damages, pre- and post-judgment interest and any other relief that the Court deems just and proper under the circumstances.

The plaintiff is represented by Michael T. van der Veen, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 170901313

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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