AMA Lawsuit

The Chester Wilk lawsuit of the chiropractors against the AMA.

Chances are that many of you wouldn’t have heard about the Chester Wilk case. It was an important event in American health care history. It was also a remarkable milestone in the decades-long struggle of American chiropractors for a chance to present their case to the world.

In 1976, Chester Wilk, a chiropractor based in Illinois, and four others chiropractors filed a lawsuit against the American Medical Association (AMA). The lawsuit was under restraint of trade category. They argued that the policies and practices of AMA were being unfair to chiropractors and that this was affecting their practice.

The issue was not new. During the trial of the case, the plaintiffs were able to prove that AMA and the medical community as a whole had been trying to create misunderstanding in people’s minds about chiropractic and other alternative healthcare systems. Chiropractic was the biggest threat, the need to curb its growth was more urgent for medical doctors.

It also became clear to the court that the AMA was working steadily to harm the reputation of chiropractic as a system. Doctors were asked not to refer their patients to chiropractic. AMA actively spread the message that chiropractic was unscientific and that chiropractors were quacks. Chiropractors could not work in hospitals or avail diagnostic facilities of hospitals for their patients. It was also clearly proved that the AMA had not done this in genuine public interest, but with an intention to hurt competition.

After 14 years of legal war, a ruling made by the US Supreme Court on 7 February 1990 came as a well deserved victory to chiropractors in the country. The ruling stated that the court found the AMA guilty of illegal propaganda against chiropractic. AMA was ordered to stop its attack of the chiropractic system. The court also ordered AMA to publish its order in AMA’s publications.

In spite of the case’s landmark status, media in the country gave little coverage to it, and for good reasons. People who covered medical news in newspapers were medical doctors strongly biased against chiropractic. The influence of the pharma industry cannot be ruled out either. It is common sense that chiropractic, a system that tries to do without drugs, doesn’t serve the interests of the pharma industry.

Yet such has been the case with many things in history that have been true and helpful to mankind. Gossip travels fast but truth takes it own time. But truth wins at last.

Medical Professors' Opinions

Dr. David Klein
Seaside Chiropractic

5668 La Jolla Blvd.
La Jolla, California

Phone 858-459-3132

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