Oral care company SmileDirectClub filed a $2.8 billion lawsuit against NBC News Monday, accusing it of broadcasting a story with dozens of errors in it.
SmileDirectClub asserts in the lawsuit that a story, which said some customers reported painful problems from using their at-home dental alignment products, had more than 40 false and misleading statements. The broadcast story aired on NBC’s “Nightly News with Lester Holt” on Feb. 13.
The company argues that NBCUniversal Media and reporter Vicky Nguyen “knowingly and intentionally” made “factually inaccurate, misleading and defamatory claims” about SmileDirectClub and its treatment.
“NBC must be held accountable for its abuse of power and betrayal of trust,” the lawsuit read. “Viewers and readers across the country turn to the media for the information they need to make decisions about their health and well-being.”
SmileDirectClub allows patients to obtain clear aligners and check in with dentists and orthodontists associated with the company while at home. The company allows these affiliates to refer patients to in-person care if needed.
The company filed its lawsuit in state court in Nashville, where it is based, saying in it that its market cap fell by $950 million after the report.
SmileDirectClub alleged in the lawsuit that it made senior officers available for interviews as well as coordinated interviews with doctors and patients. It also said it provided hundreds of pages of documents “demonstrating the safety and effectiveness, and benefits” of the treatment.
The NBC News story cited testimonials of patients who complained of pain after SmileDirectClub treatment, including a patient who said her orthodontist diagnosed her with a crossbite “possibly caused by” the company’s aligners. Another said the aligners “moved his teeth so fast that it caused some of them to detach from the bone.”
NBC News also interviewed Chung Kau, chairman and professor of orthodontics at the University of Alabama, who said moving teeth without in-person care could cause permanent harm. But SmileDirectClub contracted dentist Gary Moore told the network he suspects orthodontists and dentists opposed to the company are upset about losing money.
An NBC News spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill that, “We stand by our reporting and believe this is a meritless claim.”
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