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Hudson woman awarded $1 million in suit against KSTP

A Hudson doctor of naturopathy has won the largest defamation lawsuit award in Minnesota history. A jury awarded Susan Anderson $1 million in compensatory damages from Twin Cities television station KSTP.

Anderson sued KSTP over a 2009 story the station ran that alleged Anderson, then known as Susan Wahl, "de-prescribed" an anti-anxiety medication to a patient, Cheryl Blaha, also of Hudson, who then attempted suicide as a result.

Both Blaha and her husband Eric were also named in the suit, but jurors found that they were not liable for any damages in the case. The jurors also did not award any punitive damages.

In her suit, Anderson pointed to the records of Blaha's medical doctor which indicated that doctor had reduced the medication and that there was no proof of the alleged suicide attempt.

Anderson claimed KSTP knew the story was false as evidenced by medical records dating back to 2007 and the fact that Blaha saw her medical doctor a week after the alleged suicide attempt and said nothing about it. Anderson's lawyer, Patrick Tierney said, "KSTP bought [Blaha's story] hook, line and sinker, and that's what this case was about."

Tierney said that since the jury found "actual malice" in its verdict, it would be difficult for KSTP to have the award overturned or reduced.

KSTP's lawyer Paul Hannah disagreed and said his client would likely appeal the verdict and the award.