Dr. Phil gets sued for defamation and fraud

Dr. Phil has sure seen his success dwindle in the last few years. He went from a semi-respected spawn of Oprah into a cheesy, tabloid, “Dr. Phil House” promoting goofball. We won’t even mention the whole Britney Spears debacle. It’s been pretty evident for a while that the guy doesn’t have a whole lot of common sense, and now a substantial lawsuit is trying to prove it.

Dr. Phil is facing a lawsuit for fraud, defamation of character… and some shifty editing. Thomas Riccio, the man who recorded O.J. Simpson’s recent illegal activities, claims Dr. Phil aired ads depicting Riccio nodding in response to accusations he vehemently denied in the actual interview. Check out the legal documents, exclusively on TMZ.

In the lawsuit, Riccio claims that Dr. Phil’s practice of “splicing in answers to different questions implies that [Riccio] is agreeing with McGraw’s statements which he never does in the interview.” He says that during the show, McGraw claimed that Riccio “set O.J. Simpson up and told people to bring guns into the room.” Riccio’s denial was allegedly edited out and replaced with a shot of him nodding, apparently in agreement.

“Had plaintiff been aware of defendants’ intent and their intended actions, he would not have agreed to do the interview,” the lawsuit stated.

Riccio is also suing for defamation of character, saying that Dr. Phil called him a “shady deal maker,” “a puppet master who would sell his soul for a coin,” and “the ring leader of this crime” during the program.

[From Pop Eater]

Considering the ridiculous shenanigans Dr. Phil has gotten himself involved in, this really isn’t anything substantial. But it is highly unethical, especially as someone who so proudly touts the “doctor” in his credentials. It makes people feel they can trust him and he’s not going to screw them over, Tyra Banks style.

Dr. Phil has definitely had his run, and it’s pretty clear he’s desperate and doing whatever he can to keep his show (and as rumor has it, his marriage) going. Oprah should can it before he does some serious harm.

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33 Responses to “Dr. Phil gets sued for defamation and fraud”

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  1. vdantev says:

    How about for not being an actual doctor ? I don’t think anyone should be allowed to use the title so casually. You don’t see too many folks being called ‘attorney’ without having the license, because it would be illegal.

  2. Baholicious says:

    As long as he has a PhD in a given field, he can call himself ‘doctor’ – it’s not just applicable to the medical profession, which is the mistake a lot of people make.

  3. vdantev says:

    True, but I think only MDs should be given the title.

  4. Baholicious says:

    I see your point Dante and just for the record, it is extremely rare for anyone outside the medical professions and sciences to use the term. It’s considered pretentious and gauche. Many academics don’t put their degree accreditation on cards etc. for the same reason. They are usually identified by their academic position (indicating tenure stream or not eg professor, associate professor) and or administrative position (Dept. Chair, director) at the institution they are affiliated with.

    But Phil’s so overblown, what can one expect.

  5. ER says:

    He actually does have a phd and was licensed in another state, however he let his license lapse. Dr.’s do have the right though, to continue to use the title Dr. even when they’re retired, or have not maintined their credentials through continuing education and paying the licensing fees.

  6. Christina says:

    you can legitimately call someone a Dr. if they have a PhD… it’s calleda doctorate of philosophy…

    granted, he’s not a medical doctor… but he’s a doctor nonetheless.

    this is not to say i defend or watch or listen to the show or anything… just clarifying… cuz i’m getting a phd in physics partly cuz i like the sound of dr. in front of my name :-p

    boho, i don’t think it’s extremely rare… most of my professors are called either dr. or professor. although, most of my experience is in academia so maybe outside of that it’s rare…

  7. Baholicious says:

    @Christina: One can have a doctorate in many disciplines, not just philosophy, like English, Political Science, Education, History, a language or area of cultural study and so forth.

    I work at a post-secondary institution in Toronto so am familiar with the Canadian system of ranking tenure-track and teaching stream faculty and department heads. Other countries work differently – like Italy for example: anyone with a BA from an Italian university can be called ‘dottore’.

  8. Lisa says:

    Yeah, all those people involved in the whole OJ deal are so upstanding in the first place, how dare someone make them look bad. They are all idiots!
    All this lawsuit will do is take away the extra money allotted for his wife’s endless plastic surgery and botox. No big.

  9. Christina says:

    baho… i think they are still called PhD’s… if i’m not mistaken… like a PhD in english… for instance, mine is a PhD in physics… i believe it stands for Philosopher’s Degree. i don’t think it necessarily means you aer studying philosophy… i think it’s just a term to distinguish one from a medical doctor. as far as i know, there are BA’s, BS’s, MA’s MS’s and PhD’s…

    i’m pretty sure i know abotu this, i’ve been in grad school for four years…

  10. Baholicious says:

    @Christina, my misunderstanding for not seeing you were referring to the definition. It does literally stand for doctorate of philosophy (aside from the given discipline)which indicates a research degree as opposed to an MD.

    Best of luck with your studies, physics is very impressive…especially for the mathematically stunted like me :D I’m a Humanities chick.

  11. devilgirl says:

    Good! I wish they would give his cheesey show the ax too. He sucks!

  12. mark says:

    How about “Mr.” Phil? The “Dr.” somehow gives him a mythical legitimacy which he clearly is losing.

  13. aspen says:

    The American cultural ignorance of the definition of the term “doctor,” should not be used to punish those who work very hard for a very long time to earn doctoral status in their fields of study.

    Medical doctors have their own title…”M.D.”

    The ignorance of society at large is no reason to strip scholars of a title that they earned and which has historical meaning.

  14. Feebee says:

    I can’t believe how many people with PhDs read and comment on Celebitchy. Nice to see CB attracts such esteemed company. I’m feeling a little underqualified.

  15. Bobby the K says:


    Hey I’m a Phd as well,

    (make that post-hole-digger!)

  16. Polkasox says:

    Didn’t he have his license suspended for unethical behavior? He had a relationship with one of his patients, which especially for a psychiatrist is REALLY inappropriate.

    There are plenty of people with doctorates who refer to themselves as “Dr”, but I think it’s ridiculous that people listen to a thing that slimeball has to say.

  17. Christina says:

    thanks baho… sometimes i status drop cuz there’s so much work involved… so thanks for not calling me out on it :-p

    feebee it’s a good stress relief i suppose. but then, my taste in entertainment has never been very commendible.

    this site requires a minimum of a BS to decipher… yeah right… :P

  18. Blahblahblahblah says:

    being called Dr. isn’t the issue. Being a self-centered, egotistical, pompous idiot is the problem. Have you watched his show? He offers absolutely no advise anyways. He just makes bonehead off the wall comments and uh’s and um’s the whole show.

  19. tigerlille says:

    Hey, this lawsuit couldn’t happen to a more deserving fraudulent windbag…

    I grew up in academia, and yeah, my father was known as Dr. X only in the setting of academia… And certainly never with the intent to deceive, i.e., imply that he was a medical doctor.

    Dr. Phil has always been viewed with a certain contempt by people, such as myself, who are actually qualified as therapists. It is really sad to see such an unethical and incompetent psychologist exploit people who are unfamiliar with professional credentials in this field. He’s the Sarah Palin of psychotherapy.

  20. Trashaddict says:

    OK, STILL major confusion about the whole “doctor” thing. First of all, if you do not have a Doctor of Medicine (=MD) you are NOT a psychiatrist. If you have a Ph.D., then you are a psychologist. You can still be pretty adept at doing psychotherapy and psychiatric diagnosis, but you can’t prescribe medication.
    So, just what the heck was he “licensed” in? Could be his state has licensing and credentialling for psychologists. But he is definitely not a psychiatrist in the strict sense of the term. If he is calling himself one, he is behaving fraudulently.

  21. Jen (the other one) says:

    Just to make it even more confusing, there is also a Doctor of Psychology degree, called PsyD, which focuses on the clinical aspects of psychology. A PhD in Psychology focuses more on research.

    And TrashAddict is right: a psychiatrist is an MD who specializes in psychiatry, and can prescribe meds. Shrinks deal mostly with actual mental illness, whereas psychologists do not.

    You’d go to a psychiatrist if you were schizophrenic, a psychologist if you needed marriage counseling, and Dr. Phil if you were running low on bronzer.

    And finally, I don’t think there are two people on planet who love being famous more than these two idiots.

  22. Ironhead says:

    Apparently Dr. Phil and I have something in common…a doctorate in asshattery.

    Seriously, isn’t this guy’s clock at 14:59 yet?

  23. xiaoecho says:

    As soon as the goodies dry up, Robyn’ll jump ship. She’s been propping him up for years – he needs her to humanise him

    Doesn’t she look like a character from Dallas? (the tv show)

  24. MissMara says:

    I’m a PhD too… I guess we all started visiting CB to procrastinate on our thesis writing… :wink:

  25. drm says:

    I also have a doctorate and you bet I use Dr. I earned it.

  26. Jinxy says:

    I wrote him off years ago, he was sanctioned in TX for sleeping with one of his patients. He was a therapist there. He never got his license back in Texas. That’s just soooooo sleazy. He has no business giving anyone advice.

  27. Thatbird says:


    The shock of recognition! I too started visiting CB to run run run from writing the phud thesis (yep, it’s a doctorate, you get to be Dr., and all those things, and usually takes longer than a medical one to obtain, sigh).

    I haven’t finished writing the phud, but I am ooooohhhhhhhh so current with all the latest gossip. : )

    Now if only that counted for coursework or something.

  28. lola lola says:

    I have a BA in Bs but it’s called a JD. Whole lotta good it’s done me. Can I get extra credit for being a Celebitchy alum?

  29. Margie says:

    Practicing Ph.D. or Psy.D. psychologists have the right to use Dr. as a title and, in my experience, often do. It is legitimate as they are treating and evaluating mental disease. However, they have to have a license for the state in which they are treating disease. It requires passing an examination and keeping up with ongoing licensure requirements. IIRC, Phil no longer has a license in any state. That’s where I have the problem with his use of the title Dr. Although it is technically correct, it is misleading.

  30. Codzilla says:

    Ironhead: You, too? While I found my asshatting studies quite fulfilling, I was distraught to learn they didn’t really translate into any marketable skills. That being said, I haven’t tried the defamation and fraud route, yet, so there’s still hope. Wish me luck.

  31. Willow says:

    Wait, what was Dr. Phil’s licensure?? Psychologist?

  32. Malia Margraf says:

    Last night my cruz R102 was working fine. I got up this morning and the black scree of death. I updated the firm ware and nothing. It updates and the cruz screen come on and goes black. This is my second unit since Nov. Why does this keep happening?