Stricken family faces defamation lawsuit

Employer’s suit cites Facebook posts saying Payson man fired to cut health care costs.

By Michele Nelson

Payson Roundup

Payson counseling and social services agency has sued a former employee for defamation because he complained on his Facebook account and in interviews with the newspaper that he was fired in large part because his infant son’s grave illness cost the agency’s health plan too much money.

Horizon Human Services filed the defamation suit against Gary Austin, whose son, Christian, suffered a mysterious and nearly fatal paralysis and had to spend months in a Phoenix hospital.

In a complaint filed on Aug. 21 in Payson, Horizon Human Services, a non-profit organization offering behavioral health services, alleged that since the company had fired Austin at the end of June, he had a pattern of, “posting libelous and defamatory statements about Horizon on the Facebook page…(and) providing libelous and defamatory statements to reporters for a story appearing in the Payson Roundup newspaper…”

Austin made statements on Facebook about his firing, accusing the CEO and COO of the Payson Horizon office of firing him due to his son’s serious illness.

Austin’s only child, Christian, almost died from paralysis earlier this year. Doctors believe the year-old suffers from a Chari malformation at the base of his skull.


If interested in discussing employment law matters, you can contact David Weissman, director of RLG’s Employment Law Department,





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