Richard Malouf, the Dallas Dentist Accused of Fraud, Sues WFAA and Owen Wilson's Mom

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Candy Evans
Richard Malouf has had an exciting year or so, what with being investigated by the state, the feds and WFAA for what is alleged to be a massive amount of Medicaid fraud. Malouf and wife Leanne's rather lavish personal lifestyle has also come under scrutiny: the mansion, the jets, the fancy cars, the amusement park they appear to be building in the backyard.

Now Malouf is suing Belo, WFAA, real-estate blogger Candy Evans and Luke and Owen Wilson's mother, who is their neighbor, for libel, slander and invasion of privacy for writing about, and taking pictures of, the construction over at the Malouf's place. The Observer also gets a mention in there, as one of the outlets who utilized Evans' "unlawfully obtained pictures and information to taint Dr. Malouf's character."

The Maloufs filed the lawsuit and a request for a temporary restraining order yesterday. The incredibly entertaining, floridly-written complaint alleges that after weeks of "stalking" their home on Strait Lane, Evans slipped onto their property and snapped photos of the equipment and construction in the yard. This section of the lawsuit is titled "Candy's Obsession," which Evans really might want to think about using in case she branches out into a line of perfumes or perhaps some Harlequin romance novel knockoffs.

The day after taking the photos, Evans published them on her blog, under the headline: "Water Park Slides Have Arrived at the Malouf Manse & World Now Knows We Are Serious About Medicaid Fraud in Texas." These words, the complaint alleges, were designed to leave readers "with the false impression that that Dr. Malouf was a thief, fraudster and environmentally irresponsible." It also says that the Maloufs filed a criminal trespass complaint with the Dallas Police Department against Evans.

It's not the first time Evans has "brazenly" trespassed onto the Malouf's property, they say, adding that she crashed their daughter's birthday party two years ago and "interrogated" the girl, as well as "habitually" driving past the house. One of her "reconnaissance missions" was conducted with the help of Laura Wilson, Malouf neighbor and mother of actors, who the Maloufs say allowed Evans to crawl atop her roof to take photos of the goings-on next door. It also alleges that Evans approached the Maloufs former house manager, David Kinney, with a "contemptible proposition" to plant a hidden camera in the lady Malouf's closet.

Evans has cheerily responded to all of this on her blog, posting a copy of the complaint and writing, "You just can't make this *%#$@! up! Well, actually, I guess you CAN!"

Meanwhile, the Maloufs complain that WFAA reporter Byron Harris has published more than 40 articles "disseminating images and erroneous information" about them.

A little background, if you've not been playing along at home: for years, the Maloufs owned All Smiles Dental Centers, a 51-location chain that collected $10.2 million in Medicaid reimbursements in 2010. In a lawsuit filed in June, the Texas attorney general made it clear he thinks some of that might not be legit: ""Defendants submitted claims for services which they did not provide, and misrepresented or concealed the true nature of the services which they provided," as part of the complaint puts it. This is after Malouf was forced to pay $1.2 million to the feds and the state to settle similar claims .

The Malouf's complaints center on the follow-ups Harris wrote about their residence. It also denies WFAA's reports that Richard filed for bankruptcy: "Dr. Malouf has never personally filed for bankruptcy or been found guilty of fraud." Allegations that he is "financially stripped" are simply not true, it adds.

They also complain that WFAA used its news helicopter to take photos of their backyard, and says the station's report that their new pool will use 6.5 million gallons of water is "pure conjecture." Harris and WFAA's "tireless harassment" of the couple even extended to a courtroom, which the complaint says Harris "stormed" on October 12 of this year to videotape some unspecified civil proceedings. The complaint refers to those proceedings as "private" and pertaining to their son.

The Maloufs are asking for both a temporary and permanent restraining order against the defendants, as well as unspecified damages. Their full and highly readable complaint is on page two.


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16 comments
deep-sigh
deep-sigh

is his brother a dermatologist here in Dallas? simple affirmative...no names...just curious.

Edward
Edward

Looks as if Dr. Malouf is just digging the hole deeper, in more ways than one.

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

are filing a law suit and suing exactly synonymous?  I'm suggesting that suing is perhaps a step or two beyond the initial filing.  Perhaps not, I'm asking, not being snarky.   

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

@scottindallas In Texas a law suit commences when the plaintiff files a complaint with the clerk of the court. It sits there until the defendant is given proper notice of the lawsuit. This lawsuit continues until termination, which can occur for many reasons. There are dismissals, judgements, etc. and, of course, appeals. Once all of the appeals are exhausted, the lawsuit is over, unless the circumstances permit the plaintiff to re-file, but that would be a new suit.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 @scottindallas Hmm. Seems like six of one, half a dozen of the other to me, but I'd be open to hearing why it isn't. You mean suing requires ongoing levels of money and being pissed off, whereas filing a lawsuit requires only an initial complaint ? 

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @primi_timpano  @scottindallas when a judge refuses to let a case go forward shortly after filing, must the defendant bring council to the bench?  or can (does) a judge ever boot a case before the defense presents any defense in what I suppose is the civil equivalent to arraignment? (which may be so misapplied to be very poorly described on my part)

scottindallas
scottindallas topcommenter

 @Anna_Merlan I thought that a case can be filed and then thrown out by a judge before proceeding to any substantial degree.  But, I frankly don't know the exact particulars.  The charge against Mrs. Wilson sounds particularly feeble, whereas the slander claim against WFAA has possibly more standing.  Again, I don't know the exact details about the fraud allegations.  That's a difficult call for journalists, to balance the legal notion of presumption of innocence with public announcement of charges, which are often excessive and meant to drive a response/explanation from the accused. 

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @Anna_Merlan  @scottindallas 

 

Occasionally, there is the libel or slander suit where the plaintiff is awarded one dollar in damages.

 

This is pretty much saying that  "Yes you are correct.  The defendant shouldn't have called you a flaming scumbag.  But we believe that you really are a scumbag."

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

 @scottindallas  @Anna_Merlan Technically the claim against Belo would probably be considered a libel claim since the TV reports are considered to be "published".

 

In order to prove slander or libel against a media outlet, it is my understanding that the plaintiff would have to show that the publisher knowingly published false facts that would damage the reputation of the subject of the story.

 

That is the mere reporting of a fact or stated opinion by someone that is later found to be false or incorrect is not sufficient for a libel cause of action.

 

Periodically, you will see retractions and corrections published in a newspaper or a TV outlet stating a retraction or correction.  This is often considered sufficient redress to the wronged party.

 

Comedic sketches which parody, or otherwise satire, ridicule or lampoon, public figures are exempt from the libel and slander laws.

 

Of course, the main problem that the Malouf's have is that they are living extremely well and jsut from where did all that money come from.  Medicaid is notoriously tight fisted and a settlement agreement with the Feds to refund a substantial amount of Medicaid payments is more than just a smoking gun.

Anna_Merlan
Anna_Merlan

 @scottindallas I see your point. That's why new outlets try hard to follow the case beyond the initial filing, although sometimes that's difficult, especially when things get abruptly settled out of court. And of course, Evans et. al aren't being "charged" with anything, an initial complaint in a civil case is just an allegation by one party against another.     

hkauilani
hkauilani

 @Anna_Merlan I would say it depends on the judge. If they actually say WFAA is responsible for slander, I can tell journalists around the country will have a field day with that one 

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