October 12, 2012
“Years Of Great Dental Marketing Erased When Dentist Sues Patient”
Jim Du Molin, Dental Practice Marketing And Management Blog
No matter how many times The Wealthy Dentist points out that suing for a negative online review is just bad dental marketing, another case makes headlines.
Three weeks ago we reported on dentist, Mo Saleh, who was suing a former dental patient for $300,000 for damage to his reputation and loss of revenue stemming from what he felt was an inflammatory negative online review.
And just this week the judge in the case decided to throw the lawsuit out, stating that online comments made by the dental patient were free speech.
To prove that the dental patient was guilty of libel, the dentist would have to establish that the statements made in the online review were false, that they caused the dentist harm, and were posted without proper research into the validity of the comments.
But if the online review is considered a statement of opinion about the dentist, as opposed to actual facts, then the dentist won’t get very far in a lawsuit for defamation, and here in California, as well as in Oregon, the law takes it one step further with Anti-SLAPP legislation.
California’s anti-SLAPP statute provides for a special motion to strike a complaint where the complaint arises from activity exercising the rights of petition and free speech. (The California Anti-SLAPP Project). The same is true on Oregon, where the dentist’s lawsuit was initiated.
According to KVAL news, Dr. Saleh may appeal the judges verdict, if he feels that the online review was meant to harm him and not simply to inform the public.
The Wealthy Dentist argues that Dr. Saleh’s money would be better spent initiating a new dental marketing campaign targeted at showcasing what his dental practice has to offer and bringing in new dental patients.
Most of the general public is beginning to look at negative online reviews with some skepticism because of many of the outlandish comments reviewers have made. Someone looking for a local dentist may see the negative review, but will also read the positive reviews, and probably ask a few people they know in the community for a recommendation. They most likely won’t make their decision based on one reviewer’s comments, and if a dental patient did decide on a dentist based on just one review, then a dentist might not want them as a dental patient.
But a dentist can do more damage to their reputation themselves and erase years of great dental marketing by engaging in litigation with a dental patient who has written a poor review of their dental practice.
Instead, spend that money on making your dental practice the best practice in town.
Jim Du Molin is a leading Internet marketing expert for dentists in North America. He has helped hundreds of doctors make more money in their practices using his proven Internet marketing techniques.