SmileDirectClub just sued NBC for $2.8 billion, claiming reports about its teeth-straightening products were defamatory

David Katzman, CEO of SmileDirectClub stands with founders Jordan Katzman (R) and Alex Fenkell as the company debuts its IPO at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New YorkReuters
  • SmileDirectClub is suing Comcast's NBCUniversal for roughly $2.8 billion, claiming its reports about the company's teeth-straightening products were defamatory, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
  • The lawsuit alleges that reporting earlier this year by NBC News describing customers' complaints was "willfully and knowingly" false and misleading, according to a press release.
  • SmileDirectClub said its value plummeted by $950 million following the reports.
  • "We stand by our reporting and believe this is a meritless claim," NBC News told The Wall Street Journal.
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Teeth-straightening startup SmileDirectClub filed a lawsuit Monday against NBC Universal Media for approximately $2.8 billion over news reports it says were defamatory, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

SmileDirectClub claims that NBC, which is owned by Comcast, intentionally made inaccurate claims about the company's products in stories earlier this year that described customers' complaints about its products and featured an orthodontics professor warning about teledentistry.

NBC "willfully and knowingly published dozens of false and misleading statements about SDC," the suit alleges, claiming NBC knew "that their actions would cause significant economic and reputational harm to the company."Advertisement

SmileDirectClub claimed its public valuation dropped by $950 million following the NBC reports.

"SDC brought this lawsuit for its employees and officers, for its affiliated doctors, for its shareholders, and to recover from the damage NBC caused to its business and reputation," SmileDirectClub attorney J. Erik Connolly told Business Insider in a statement.

"SDC respects the role that the media play in our society, but expects truthful accounts. NBC's reports were defamatory, not truthful, and the facts show that NBC knew it was not telling the truth," Connolly said.

"We stand by our reporting and believe this is a meritless claim," NBC News told The Wall Street Journal.

SmileDirectClub sells clear teeth aligners directly to consumers as well as through dentists and orthodontists, and had been a highly touted startup that was privately valued as high as $8.9 billion, according to PitchBook, before tanking when it went public in September 2019. The company has continued to struggle financially this year, missing analyst expectations last quarter due to back-office expenses and inefficient manufacturing operations.Advertisement

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