MAY 23, 2011
“What Not To Do With A Negative Review Part II”
Mike Haverhals, DOCTOR BASE
Last year we told you about a dentist, Dr. Yvonne Wong, who filed a lawsuit against both Yelp & her own patient over the negative review the patient posted online. This week, we almost titled this post “We should start charging $80k for access to the DoctorBase blog.” Don’t worry, we’d never charge anyone for access to the truth. But, here’s why we’d even make such a statement:
- As far back as 2009, we explained how a lawsuit against Yelp would be fruitless since they were only the provider (and not the publisher) which gives them immunity under the Communications Decency Act. Accordingly, the judge dismissed Dr. Wong’s lawsuit against Yelp.
- We again explained how anti-SLAPP protections give patients rights against being sued for leaving online reviews. Accordingly, the judge dismissed Dr. Wong’s lawsuit against her own patients.
- In the same post, we also touched on the Streisand-effect, where attempting to stifle free speech online can backfire horribly in the form of a whole lot of bad press. Try typing “dentist yvonne wong” into Google and you’ll find Google Instant suggesting “dentist yvonne wong yelp” – which returns a page of search results about the doctor’s lawsuit against her own patients.
Well, it got even worse for Dr. Wong. The judge ruled that, because the lawsuits had no legal standing, Dr. Wong would have to cover the legal fees of the defendants named in her lawsuits. That’s right, in addition to having the lawsuits dismissed & her own legal fees, she now has to pay an additional $80,714.
Let’s recap: Don’t sue your patients!!!
Instead of getting litigious over an occasional negative review, get proactive with your positive reviews. With the time Dr. Wong spent on fruitless lawsuits, she could have amassed enough positive reviews from her happy patients to never have to worry about another negative review again.