Surgeon Sues Patient for Damning Online Review
Outpatient Surgery Magazine
May 29, 2012
A Florida plastic surgeon thinks anonymous comments made by a former patient on a physician rating website crossed the line between opinion and malicious intent, and he’s fighting back with a defamation lawsuit.
Armando Soto, MD, reacted strongly to postings made on RateMDs.com about a botched breast augmentation procedure he allegedly performed in 2011, according to a published report. He wants the comments removed and is seeking $49,000 in damages.
His defamation lawsuit was originally filed in Virginia because that’s where he and his attorney, Domingo Rivera, thought the complaints originated. However, he plans to drop that suit and file in Florida since subsequently discovering a school teacher in his home state might have posted the negative comments. He believes the teacher posed as several unhappy patients, adding numerous damning remarks on the site.
Mr. Rivera says his client’s lawsuit addresses the difference between opinion and defamatory speech. For example, a post stating that Dr. Soto did “a poor job” is opinion, he says, while comments about breast unevenness or extra scarring are defamatory if they are not true. He believes unhappy patients should return to their physicians to have post-op issues fixed, and accuses the patient in this case of conducting a vendetta against Dr. Soto’s reputation, which the lawsuit is angling to repair and protect.
David Muraskin, a Public Citizen attorney representing the patient, said in the news report that the lawsuit could squelch freedom of speech. He could not be reached for additional comment.