Online rating sites are a great tool for consumers researching services their peers have already experienced. So in the case of getting cosmetic surgery, a bad review is akin to a huge spitball thrown at a business, which is why an Orlando plastic surgeon is suing one of his former patients for defaming him online.
The Orlando Sentinel says the surgeon claims the patient’s comments on RateMDs.com aren’t opinions that are protected by the First Amendment, but a “malicious campaign of unlawfully defaming and spreading lies” about the doctor and his business.
The unnamed patient’s lawyer says if this lawsuit is successful, it’ll put a freeze on the usefulness of such rating sites like RateMDs.com, Yelp, Angie’s List and others that review services.
“The terror created by this lawsuit will squelch freedom of speech,” said David Muraskin, a Public Citizen attorney representing the patient.
In 2011, the anonymous online comments about breast-augmentation surgeries claimed that the doctor had botched the work, saying there was unevenness, extra scarring and other issues. The doctor’s lawyers claim those statements are defamatory because they aren’t true, while other comments about the “end result is horrible” is an opinion.
“If a patient is unhappy, they can use constructive criticism, or return to the surgeon to fix it,” said the doctor’s lawyer. “This person has a vendetta, and my client has to use the court system to remedy that.”
The surgeon believes the patient has posed as other patients and posted multiple comments on the site. He’s seeking $49,000 in damages and wants the posts removed.
*Thanks for the tip, Jareesa!
Doctor sues patient over Web comments [Orlando Sentinel]