Teledentistry company SmileDirectClub Inc. SDC -1.46% sued Comcast Corp. CMCSA -1.14% ’s NBCUniversal, seeking nearly $3 billion in damages for what it alleges were defamatory news reports about the company’s treatment methods.
The suit, filed Monday in a Tennessee court, focuses on a Feb. 13 “NBC Nightly News” segment that described complaints by some SmileDirectClub customers and warnings about teledentistry from an orthodontics professor. The lawsuit also says that an online article accompanying the segment is inaccurate.
SmileDirectClub’s complaint claims that the reports from NBC News contained numerous errors involving the safety and effectiveness of its products, and that the network knew its stories about SmileDirectClub were untruthful.
“NBC must be held accountable for its abuse of power and betrayal of trust,” SmileDirectClub said in its lawsuit. “Viewers and readers across the country turn to the media for the information they need to make decisions about their health and well-being.”
NBC News said, “We stand by our reporting and believe this is a meritless claim.”
SmileDirectClub, a Nashville-based company with hundreds of retail locations around the world, sells clear aligners meant to straighten patients’ teeth without requiring frequent visits to orthodontists’ offices. Patients use those aligners at home and check in with dentists and orthodontists affiliated with SmileDirectClub, using the company’s online platform. The company also says the affiliated providers can refer patients to in-person dental and orthodontic care.
SmileDirectClub said its market capitalization fell by more than $950 million after the report was aired and that prospective customers canceled their treatments. Its market capitalization currently stands at about $2.63 billion. The company went public in September at $23 a share. On Monday, the stock closed at $6.76.