LAPORTE — A Michigan City physician who said he was accused publicly of contributing to opioid addiction has won $20,000 and a public apology.
Dr. Vidya Kora was paid $20,000 in a settlement reached with Coolspring Township resident Dennis Metheny, who ran against Kora unsuccessfully last year for LaPorte County commissioner.
Metheny also issued a public apology during Monday night’s LaPorte County Council meeting in word for word statements read directly from the settlement.
"I wanted to address these matters today before you to clear the air and apologize for any harm this has caused Dr. Kora," Metheny said.
At the LaPorte County Council's March 27 meeting, Metheny did not directly allege Kora was overprescribing painkillers to his patients.
It was implied, though, by statements Metheny framed as questions during the public comment portion of the meeting, Kora alleged in his LaPorte Circuit Court defamation lawsuit filed a month later.
At the March meeting, Metheny asked council members, "What would you say if I had two people who contacted me in regards to prescriptions that came from Dr. Kora that overprescribed opioids and I had their names. They personally contacted me. What would you say to that?'
He went on to ask if any local officials had contacted the FBI or anyone else in authority "to check on doctors that are overprescribing opioids."
While continuing to read from the settlement last week, Metheny said he never meant to imply wrongdoing on the doctor’s part.
"During my comments, I also mentioned Dr. Vidya Kora by name, though my intentions were not to suggest he was overprescribing opioids to patients or engaging in professional misconduct as a physician. I have no reasonable basis to think otherwise."
In his lawsuit, Kora said he refers patients with chronic pain who may require narcotic pain medications for the management of chronic pain to various pain clinics that may or may not treat the patients with opioids.
Kora also alleged in his legal action that Metheny knew his statements were false and defamatory and phrased them as questions to try and protect himself from liability.
Under Indiana law, though, words creating a false implication or impression are defamatory, according to the lawsuit.
Kora declined comment on the settlement.
Metheny, well known as an outspoken political watchdog, also agreed in the settlement any future comments he makes "in this forum will be conducted with civility."