CoxHealth asks judge for gag order in legal battle over ‘COVID’ promo code



A Southwest Missouri parent’s legal battle with CoxHealth and its frequently tweeting CEO Steve Edwards entered a new chapter this week.

Ozark resident Samantha Cherry sued Cox on August 26 last year, in a dispute that escalated from a quarrel on Twitter three weeks earlier.

At this point, Edwards posted a screenshot of Cherry’s personal Facebook account, as she told friends online about her experience trying to sign up for a Cox virtual tour for her child.

Cherry’s son suffered from ear pain, but she challenged Cox’s requirement that patients register for virtual tours using a promotional code, “COVID.”

“Personally, I didn’t feel comfortable associating the word ‘COVID’ with my son,” Cherry told the News-Leader in July, echoing comments she posted on Facebook that Edwards later posted on Twitter as a screenshot.

Cherry was concerned that the entry of the term into Cox data storage would have consequences beyond a simple medical visit. She also viewed the Facebook post she later made about the situation as private, an opinion which was challenged in the lawsuit.

Previously:Spotted by Kristi Fulnecky, Ozark’s mom sues CEO CoxHealth over promo code ‘COVID’ and social media screenshots

Part of Edwards’ tweet at the center of the trial read: “In the software, a coupon code had to be chosen in place of the insurance field,” COVID “It was a public service. I regret that anyone one might think this is part of a conspiracy theory. “

In her lawsuit, Cherry argued that the Twitter post published by Edwards was libelous, libelous, violated her child’s medical confidentiality, and damaged her own business reputation as a primary buying agent with eXp Realty.

Cherry is represented by former Springfield City Councilor Kristi Fulnecky, a local lawyer who has also filed pandemic-related lawsuits against Springfield Public Schools, the city of Branson, the city of Springfield and other defendants.

Cox’s attorneys said in a court application Tuesday that the parties failed to come to an agreement on “a protective order restricting public comment in light of the upcoming trial.” This jury trial is set for February 14, according to court records.

In Tuesday’s motion, Cox’s lawyers repeatedly cited US legal precedent aimed at discouraging litigants from influencing their case through public opinion or the mass media.

Lawyers for the hospital wrote that Cherry and Fulnecky, her lawyer, had publicly commented on the case “via social media posts, radio, TV, newspapers and podcasts.” They also argued that the public comment offered by their opponents “was grossly inaccurate, one-sided and inflammatory and omitted relevant facts.”

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Lawyers for the hospital also cited interrogation information exchanged between the two parties indicating that Cherry is seeking $ 5 million in damages, a figure that had yet to be cited in reports.

Cox’s attorney Bryan Wade and Cherry’s attorney Kristi Fulnecky both declined to comment publicly on Cox’s latest case. The petition had not been argued before a judge and Fulnecky had not filed any legal brief in response, before the deadline for this report.

But Cherry agreed to an interview with the News-Leader Thursday morning, describing numerous instances of frustration with the legal process in the nearly 13 months since she sued Cox.

“I speak with the media,” Cherry said. “This has been covered by national medical journals. You know, not just locally.… I will also say that I don’t feel like I’m being treated fairly in the Greene County courtroom where I am. am.”

She said she believed the damage to her business connections from Edwards’ tweet came at a measurable cost of at least $ 5 million.

“In the last year or so, I’ve probably made $ 10 million in real estate,” Cherry said, and said she has also worked in “national tourism” for 22 years.

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Cherry added, “I’ve reached a level in my professional career, it’s very political. And people are going to use me or not use me depending on, you know, professional friends.… I have so expert witnesses, and I’m in the process of hiring an economist who can honestly prove that he could prove that this could potentially cost me well over $ 5 million. “

For Cherry, the conflict has moved beyond its online beginnings.

“This whole lawsuit isn’t against Cox, per se, over the promo code,” she said. “I mean, it’s just the catalyst for the story. Really, I’m suing for libel and slander, and it’s a tort case. And the longer his tweet sticks, the more it affects my reputation. “

Cox chief spokeswoman Kaitlyn McConnell commented on the new petition in the case with a brief written statement sent on Thursday.

“The judge asked that the parties work together to agree on a protective order,” McConnell wrote. “The parties are at an impasse and we ask the court to help us complete this process.

She added: “Regarding the $ 5 million, while Samantha Cherry has publicly stated that she wants the Tweet deleted, she has not said that her request to delete the Tweet was and still is associated with it. at a demand that CoxHealth pay him $ 5 million. ”

Contact News-Leader reporter Gregory Holman by sending an email to [email protected]. Please consider subscribing to support vital local journalism.


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