BuzzFeed News: This Dentist Might Sue You For Posting A Negative Review

Yelp’s Warning: This Dentist Might Sue You For Posting A Negative Review 

Leticia Miranda 

BuzzFeed News 

July 25, 2016

After suffering through tooth pain for some time, Mary Rohs decided to see a dentist. Rohs, a New York resident, scheduled an appointment at Advanced NYC Endodontics with Dr. Nima Dayani on July 16, 2015, to treat the pain.

More than a year later, the fallout from that routine appointment — a negative Yelp review by Rohs, and a lawsuit by Dayani claiming the review was defamatory — continues. And today, Yelp itself got involved, placing a new “consumer alert” on Dr. Dayani’s Yelp page, warning that his business may be “issuing questionable legal threats against reviewers.”

“Consumers have the right to share their opinions about their experiences with businesses,” Yelp said in a blog post announcing the new alerts. “But there will always be a small handful of businesses who mistakenly think it’s a good idea to threaten consumers who exercise their free speech rights.”

Court records say Rohs showed up to Dayani’s office around 11 a.m., filled out intake forms, and was shown into an exam room about 20 minutes later, where she had additional X-rays taken of her mouth.

According to Dayani’s timeline of her visit, Rohs spent about two hours at the office. He argues that he was treating other patients while Rohs sat in the exam room, but he made sure to discuss her dental history in length and take additional X-rays to check out her complaints about cold sensitivity. “By the end of her visit, she had two concurrent definitive diagnoses,” said Dayani in an affidavit. “They were discussed with her and a plan of treatment was formulated.”

But in a Yelp review dated July 27, 2015, Rohs described a frustrating experience. She complained about the “absurdly long wait” at the end of which she said Dayani couldn’t come to some clear diagnosis. “Of the total TWO HOURS FIFTEEN MINUTES I was there, I think I was speaking to Dr. Dayani for about 30 minutes of that whole time,” she wrote. “The rest was spent in his chair, without being offered a water or a magazine.” To make matters worse, she adds, “he couldn’t help determine what was bothering me. I left with a mouth full of pain and a recommendation to see my dentist for a possible cavity.”

Dayani, who says he gets plenty of positive and negative feedback on Yelp and is comfortable with both, says the claims by Rohs weren’t simply a negative review. He alleges her comments amount to defamation, and he sued Rohs two days after the review was posted. It’s an accusation the dentist has levied against at least four previous patients who have written negative reviews about his practice, according to a BuzzFeed News review of court records.

Dayani said false negative reviews like Rohs’ have harmed his practice over time. He said he laid off one part-time staff member because of a drop in business. “[Rohs] accused me of malpractice by saying I didn’t diagnose her,” he said. “When you are publicly accusing someone of malpractice, you are damaging their reputation.”

Rohs declined to comment to BuzzFeed News because the lawsuit is ongoing.

It’s likely that Rohs, like millions of Yelp users, had no idea that a negative review could land her in court. But as online reviews become more critical to companies looking for new business, people have become increasingly vulnerable to such lawsuits, which can chill free speech, consumer advocates told BuzzFeed News.

“When you as a consumer share your honest opinion in some type of public way on Yelp or otherwise, it can mean negative reviews,” Yelp’s vice president of public policy, Luther Lowe, told BuzzFeed News. “Businesses, rather than responding diplomatically or using feedback to improve operations, go out and hire a lawyer wagering that the consumer who wrote this review is more likely to pull the review off than hire a defense attorney and defend themselves. By merely threatening, it doesn’t take going to court to bully the person in order for that business to censor the user.”

The consumer alert Yelp put on Dayani’s page Monday is the third time the company has placed such a warning, Yelp spokesperson Hannah Cheesman told BuzzFeed News.

The company placed its first legal alert on a Texas pet sitting business called Prestigious Pets in May. The pet sitting company sued a customer for violating the company’s nondisparagement, or “gag,” clause when she posted a negative review about the company’s care for her fish.

Superior Moving & Storage in Florida was hit with a legal alert on its page in June after it sued one of its previous customers for defamation. Both cases are ongoing.

Lowe said that businesses sometimes include so-called gag clauses into their terms of service contracts. When the contract is signed, the consumer gives up their ability to publicly criticize the company. Other companies include contract clauses that prohibit consumers from saying anything publicly at all about the company, while others, like Dr. Dayani, may allege defamation and libel in court based on the negative review.

Yelp’s rollout of the consumer alerts comes as Congress considers two bills designed to protect consumers from being sued for posting negative reviews online. California and Maryland are currently the only two states that prohibit the inclusion of gag clauses in contracts.

The “Right to Yelp Bill,” also called the Consumer Review Fairness Act, would ban gag clauses from business contracts, while the SPEAK FREE Act would allow consumers slapped with a lawsuit over an online review to dismiss the claims early on in court. But as the two bills, which have received bipartisan support, make their way through Congress, individual consumers are left to fend for themselves, with few legal precedents for such cases.

“We don’t have a lot of cases to point to so we don’t know how judges view them,” said Paul Levy, an attorney with Public Citizen and defense counsel in the Prestigious Pets case, told BuzzFeed News. “The question becomes did the person who signed the contract understand what they were giving away and did they understand they were giving away free speech? The second point is that it’s so unfair that it’s not able to be enforced.”

In two such cases, the suing companies never appeared in court to back up their claims. A Utah couple sued KlearGear in 2012, claiming they did not owe a debt for violating its terms of service by writing a negative review, but the company never appeared in court and couple received a default judgment including over $300,000 in damages. In 2014, a Wisconsin woman a lawsuit against Accessory Outlet after they demanded she pay $250 for violating its terms of sale. The company never appeared in court to defend its claims.

In one case, a dentist, who faced a class-action lawsuit by former patients who signed a gag clause to receive care, moved abroad before she could defend her breach of contract claims in court in 2012.

“The harms generally aren’t harms that are enforced in court,” Scott Michelman, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who has previously defended consumers in four gag-clause cases, told BuzzFeed News. “Instead they are the harms of the consumers that are bullied by corporations in taking down critical reviews and also the harms of consumers who are chilled by these clauses from expressing their opinions.”

Yelp has found itself at the center of a similar lawsuit in California where a personal injury law firm sued a former client after she posted three reviews criticizing the company. Hassell Law Group accused Ava Bird of defamation after she refused to remove “factual inaccuracies and defamatory remarks” from Yelp reviews she posted in January, February, and April 2013. A lower court sided with the law firm in 2014 and required Bird to take down the comments. When she refused, the court held Yelp responsible for removing the comments. In June, an appeals court agreed that Yelp must remove the comments, but the company has yet to comply, arguing it is a third party in the case.

Dayani has sued at least four previous patients over online reviews, according to a BuzzFeed review of New York County Civil court records through 2012. He sued a patient in 2012 for defamation and $75,000 in damages for writing a negative review on Yelp. The man removed the review after he was slapped with the lawsuit. Neither the patient nor Dayani appeared in court and the case was dismissed.

In June 2013, Dayani sued another patient claiming $50,000 in damages after he posted a review on Yelp complaining that the dentist had overcharged him for a root canal. The patient and Dayani settled the claim in August 2013.

Dayani sued a Yelp reviewer in November 2012 who he said used a fake name to post a negative review about her experience where she called him “rude, callous, abhorrent.” Dayani claimed the review amounted to $25,000 in damages. The defendant, “Jane Doe,” never responded to his complaint.

In June 2015, Dayani sued a woman who wrote a Google review claiming that he suggested she should undergo two root canals during a visit. She said she sought out a second opinion from another dentist who gave her a cavity filling and replaced a crown, which treated her tooth pain. “I am so happy that I didn’t get treated in this place,” she wrote. “If I did, I would have paid more than three thousand dollars for the treatment that I didn’t need at all.” Dayani is seeking a total of $100,000 from the woman for damages, according to court records.

Dayani does have a number of good reviews online from people who have described him as “thorough and knowledgeable.” “After doing a lot of research I chose Dr. Dayani,” said one Yelp reviewer called Eva H. “I couldn’t be happier. He is gentle, thorough, and highly professional. His staff is excellent. He is the best and I felt as relaxed as I will ever be at a dental appointment.”

Dayani insists that he only goes after online reviewers who post false information. He offered BuzzFeed News the opportunity to visit his office and review records related to the cases where he has sued patients to prove their allegations are false. BuzzFeed News declined.

He said he has adjusted his practice and opened a larger office after reading a number of negative reviews, including an emergency patient who complained in a one-star Google review about a long wait time at his office. However, the review does not appear to be online anymore.

When asked if he believes the lawsuits escalate a situation that could be resolved through other means than litigation, he insisted that he believes in free speech but draws the line at falsehoods. “When somebody writes lies about you with intent to deliver a damage to you and livelihood, that is defamatory,” he said. “I’m not Halliburton. A lie can do tremendous damage and can come at the expense of doctors and staff.” “If there are people out there doing it out of spite and not willing to correct a known lie, let an impartial judge decide,” he added. “I’m encouraging anyone to write a comment they think is correct and justifiable.”

Dayani and Rohs are scheduled to appear in court on Nov. 30.


Dr. Nima Dayani

Dentist Defamation Lawsuits

Doctor Defamation Lawsuits

Outpatient Surgery Magazine: Surgeon Sues Patient for Damning Online Review


Surgeon Sues Patient for Damning Online Review

Daniel Cook

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 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.


Armando Soto MD

Other Doctors Who Sued For Defamation

Fox News: Florida Doctor Sues Patient For Posting Bad Review Online

Florida Doctor Sues Patient For Posting Bad Review Online 

Fox News, Orlando, Florida

May 24, 2012

A Florida plastic surgeon has filed a lawsuit against one of his patients for posting an unfavorable review of him online.

Dr. Armando Soto said he filed the suit to protect his reputation and his business. The unnamed patient allegedly trashed his services online at the website “Rate MDs,” posting complaints about a breast surgery.

Attorney Larry Walters said although the patient may be covered by free speech laws, this protection will only apply if the criticism is valid. “You cannot cross the line and make false statement of fact about a person that causes damages to that person,” he said.

Dr. Soto said he has been in contact with the patient he filed the suit against, and they are trying to work it out. He said he believes his suit against the patient could soon be dropped.


Armando Soto MD

Other Doctors Who Sued For Defamation

Medical Reputation Management: Orlando Doctor Sues Patient?

Orlando Doctor Sues Patient

Patrick Chavoustie, CEO

Omni Medical Marketing


I read a story about a Doctor in Orlando that is suing a patient. This brought up many interesting questions and a few conversations with plastic surgeons late last night concerning medical reputation management.

How much damage can be caused by just a few bad reviews?

I believe it is said, if you have a happy customer, they will tell one person, if you have a disgruntled customer, they will tell 20. This has changed quite a bit as we all know. Today, I would estimate that maybe 1 out of 100 happy customers will post a review for you online, without being asked to do so. Since this customer is “happy,” there will be a positive review. On the other hand, one out of seven unhappy customers will post a negative review online.

Five hundred happy patients turns into 5 positive reviews. Thirty  unhappy patients turn into 4-5 negative reviews. Keep in mind the multiplier is huge here, as hundreds if not thousands of people will read these reviews each month.

Who reads reviews anyways?

Over the last few months I have spent quite a bit of time looking at reviews for various businesses. I am getting married in June, and planning the wedding has led me to read a large number of online reviews.  I have looked at limousine company reviews. It’s a shiny car, but will it be clean for us? Check reviews. Need to hire a band. They sound good, but will they show up on time? Check reviews. I bought a new house last month. It’s time to hire a moving company.  Is their quote real, or will I get a surprise $400 gas surcharge? Check reviews…  I, like most people, would be much more inclined to “warn” other people after having a terrible experience with a business.

What if most of my reviews are positive?

One thing I noticed was how much weight I put on the negative reviews compared to the positive reviews. The negative reviews just seemed to scream out, “pay the most amount of attention to me!”  The positive reviews seemed to stay very quiet, almost whispering, “These were posted by the owner, these are fake!” Almost every time I read a review for a moving company, a doctor, or even a stereo receiver at Best Buy, I always take a peek at the 5 star reviews, but I always click on the one star reviews as well.  There is no doubt in my mind that one negative review outweighs 3-5 positive reviews.

Fake reviews, Astro-Turfing , and why anonymous reviews should be stopped!

I hear horror stories all the time from medical practices claiming they have been the victim of unfair, unwarranted, and possibly illegal fake reviews. I spoke with a plastic surgeon, who first called us for SEO, and then explained that his ex-girlfriend went online and posted dozens of fake reviews as a way of “getting back at him.”  I also spoke with a client who had a number of negative reviews all based on the same procedure that he didn’t, doesn’t, and never has performed.  He has his suspicions in regards to which one of his competitors wrote the reviews.

I am all for free speech, I believe if you have something negative to say about someone, you should have no problems putting your name next to it. People are being seriously hurt by fake reviews and Astro-Turfing.

Is suing the patient a smart form of medical reputation management?

While it is certainly one form, it’s most likely not the best form. I am not sure if suing a patient is the right thing to do or not. While I do not believe people should allow themselves to be walked all over, suing could bring personal damages to a whole other level. The number of people checking reviews is greater than ever. Anytime someone searches the name of this doctor, this story is going to come up.  Along with this story, search results will also show this negative review, as well as any other negative review that may have been made concerning this doctor.   This only draws more attention and increases exposure. Google’s algorithm and search engine optimization is set up in a way that this story will almost certainly dominate the web for the year to come. Not only will people see the negative reviews in my opinion, they may choose to not voice their opinion for fear of being sued.

What can I do to protect my practice?

Finding out what is being said about you and where it is being said is obviously the first step. It is best to bring in the staff to help you tackle this task that should take less than an hour. I suggest using staff, not only to save you time, but to inspire them to produce a level of service within your office that will proactively limit any future negative reviews.

In order to make sure you are getting actual real time results, I suggest you clear your cookies and cache on each computer that will be used to search. If you have been doing searches related to your practice such as “Plastic Surgeon Orange County” or “Sports Medicine practice St. Louis,”  you may end up with the results you have recently reviewed, as opposed to the real-time results.

I suggest you use terms such as your name and every variation of it (i.e. Dr. Jones MD, Dr. Jones, Dr. David Jones, and Dr. David Jones MD). Also use the name of your practice, your phone number, and your address as key words in your searches. Run each one of these searches in Bing, Yahoo, and Google. Each of these search engines has its own algorithm and will produce different search results. Medical, Plastic Surgery, and Dental SEO do not return the same results in each search engine. Bing may miss something that Yahoo picks up, etc.

Once you have identified any negative reviews take note of them. Keep track of each by cutting and pasting the link into a Word file or an email you send to yourself.

Keep informed on what is being posted about you…but don’t pay for it! There are many services that, for a monthly fee, will monitor what is being said about you online. As far as I am concerned this is a waste of money. For absolutely no cost, you can set up Google Alerts. While it is important to know that Google will not always return everything that is being said about you, neither will any pay-for services company that I am aware of. However, Google will pick up most, and it is an absolute must that you get going with this right away. It always eats at me when people pay for services they can receive for free.  If you are not sure how to set up these alerts, shoot me an email and I will be more than happy to show you.

At this point, hopefully you have identified any negative reviews or comments posted about you and or your practice online. At the same time, hopefully you and your staff have identified the patients who posted each of these reviews. If you have yet to identify the individuals,  give another go at it. Most likely the same comments that were posted online were articulated to someone in your office. 

I know who posted this comment, now what?

Do your best to contact them personally. A simple phone call will work best. Ask then to go over their issue with you over the phone. If it warrants setting up an appointment to visit with them in person, make sure you are not late for this appointment and plan to spend as much time as needed to hear the patient out. Time equals love for most of us. We feel good when people are willing to spend time with us. At the least, it will show you care. 

Do your best to make the situation right! This does not mean giving them anything for free, however it might mean giving out your cell phone for any reason they may need it. It may also mean offering them a discount on future services. We have all had terrible customer experiences. Some of these experiences only made us more frustrated, while others made us feel much better and created an environment for us to want to continue doing business with the company or individual who originally upset us. Only you know the best way to right a situation. Using your own experiences will give you a good idea of how to turn the situation around.

Ask that the review/comments be removed or that an additional comment be made. I would never suggest you ask a patient to remove a negative medical review right away. Give it a little time and then ask. Frame your request with “can you do me a personal favor?” Everyone loves hearing a professional ask them for a favor. It makes us feel good; like we matter, and of course your patients do matter!

I have no idea who wrote the review.

If you don’t know who wrote the review, there are two steps to take. Both are equally important.

1)      Contact the webmaster of the site. E-mail is usually the only option. Inform them you have tried to identify the patient, however you are unable to do so. Suggest that the review or comments are from one of your competitors or a disgruntled former employee. Ask them if they are able to identify the reviewer. Mention you do not need their personal information, but rather that you only want to make sure it is a real person with a real issue. 

2)     Post a rebuttal! Posting your own comments will show other readers that you care! Make sure to be non-confrontational in your comments. Ask the person to contact you at your office so you can make the situation right and hear out their issue. If I see a negative review but see a well written thoughtful, caring rebuttal, I actually give more value to it then I would to a positive review in the first place. The value here can be tremendous! Everyone makes mistakes, lets people down, and flat out drops the ball from time to time. This we all know. What we appreciate and respect is when someone takes action to make it right!


Armando Soto MD

Other Doctors Who Sued For Defamation

Plastic Surgeon Sues Patient for Posting Negative Review


May 29, 2012

“Plastic Surgeon Sues Patient for Posting Negative Review”

 John Washam, Talk To The Manager Blog

Restaurants and hotels aren’t the only categories of service business that are vulnerable to online reviews.  Healthcare providers also are wary of reviews appearing on medical review sites such as Vitals, Rate MDs, and Rate Your Doctor.

Dr. Armando Soto is claiming defamation against a patient who posted a negative review on Rate MDs.

Domingo Rivera, attorney for Dr. Soto, said the patient’s comments on Rate MDs aren’t opinions protected by the First Amendment but a “malicious campaign of unlawfully defaming and spreading lies” about his client and business.

The counsel for the unnamed patient warned the suit could have a chilling effect on users of sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp, Rate Your Doctor, and others that rate professionals and services.  “The terror created by this lawsuit will squelch freedom of speech,” said David Muraskin, a Public Citizen attorney representing the defendant.

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.

David Muraskin of the Public Citizen Litigation Group said, “If a patient is unhappy, they can use constructive criticism, or return to the surgeon to fix it.”

Rivera said. “This person has a vendetta, and my client has to use the court system to remedy that.”

The Henrico County Circuit Court granted Soto a subpoena in April to force Comcast to divulge the Internet IP address, identity, mailing and billing addresses of the person who posted the comment.

Rivera said he most likely will drop that subpoena because he has independently learned that patient is an Osceola County schoolteacher. He suspects she has posted multiple comments on the website, posing as another unhappy patient. He did not identify the patient and has not transferred the lawsuit to Florida yet.

“It is almost a certainty that we will file there,” he said. “This person will be dealt with.”

Rivera said Soto wants the posts removed and is seeking $49,000 in damages.


 Dr. Armando Soto: Free Speech is Great; Defamation is Illegal; but Patient Satisfaction is King.

Here are the facts of this situation.

Some time ago, we became aware of a collection of internet posts that bore no resemblance to truthful patient experiences in our practice. There have also been, over the years, a small number of other negative opinions expressed, with which we were not as concerned, understanding that we can never make everybody happy, and that the people involved were not going to be possible for us to please, no matter how hard we tried.

However, because this particular collection of posts included multiple untruthful representations of fact, because they include duplication of complaints with subtle differences and different usernames to make it look as though written by multiple people (when in reality a single person was responsible), and because some included no truth at all (again, in statements represented as fact), we felt it important to pursue the matter.

Why?  Well, first of all, because as a professional who takes his relationships with his patients and their complete satisfaction as seriously as I do, it was important to me that I do everything possible to understand (for the benefit of this individual as well as my practice) why this person had not expressed any legitimate complaints to me directly and allowed us to guide her through a thoughtful and appropriate course of action prior to posting untruthful and damaging things about me on the web. The vast majority of my patients would attest, I believe, to the extreme dedication to patient satisfaction we practice in my office every day- and I believe it is evident to them that we often do so even when not in our financial best interests. In other words, we believe in doing the right thing- and did not understand why someone would do this.

Secondly, there is no one alive today that is more thankful for the opportunities, freedoms, and rights that we as Americans enjoy than me. I am a living example of The American Dream. I simply would not have been able to achieve everything I have in any other nation on Earth, and I am deeply grateful for that. For the legal eagles at Public Citizen to say that I am trying to “squelch free speech” is ignorant, offensive, and more importantly, untrue.

I believe all of our constitutional rights- including the right to free speech are valuable and ought to be protected- but as an American who HAS worked so hard to accomplish everything I have, I also believe (just as strongly) that we have a right to protect our good names from libel and slander. These rights are no less important.

I believe the zealous, if misguided people at Public Citizen have an ax to grind on this issue of internet free speech, and would like to use me as their stone… but this is simply not my issue. I have no problem with free expression of opinion. Just libel and slander. Thank God that in America, we recognize a difference.

The reason all of the people who complained on the web about me were named in the suit is because it was necessary to do so in order to identify this one person. It is also required that damages requested be stipulated- but our goal was never to attempt to recover money. Our goal was to identify the person involved, come to an understanding of the causes of her behavior, and bring light to the truth, while hopefully recovering a more healthy doctor-patient relationship and achieving her satisfaction.

Experience has shown that the most vocal and happy clients/patients of any business are those who may have been initially displeased and were then won over by the establishment’s skills at recovering their satisfaction and trust. It has been our goal to have this opportunity with this person, and I am pleased to say we are on our way to achieving this end.

I have no problem with the occasional patient expressing a negative opinion of me. The fact is that even a cursory review of my education, training, experience, work product, and the vast majority of prior patient experiences would reveal a level of success and accomplishment with which I believe I can be rightfully proud, and which belies the idea being pushed by the brilliant minds at Public Citizen- that I am a poorly qualified surgeon who is trying to keep the word of my incompetence from getting out somehow by suing all critics into submission.

The truth is that the lawsuit we filed had a very limited purpose- to identify the person responsible for this one particular collection of fraudulent and defamatory (because they included multiple representations of fact that could be objectively proven to be false) posts. The suit served that purpose. The patient in question, in fact, has at this point admitted to everything I describe above, and we are actively discussing a solution acceptable to all, with restoration of a healthier relationship. Which is really what good health care is all about.

To summarize, I have no problem with the reality that there are always going to be some who have a negative opinion of me as a professional, despite my best efforts. But I believe I have a right to protect my reputation when behavior crosses the line towards libel and slander. In this particular case, thankfully, the patient has admitted her wrongdoing, agreed to resolve the issues with me, and even asked that I take her back as a patient- such is her true assessment of me.

This is- for the patient, and for me, a very successful outcome.

John Washam:  I see that this has been a difficult experience for you and I’m glad that you’ve reached a resolution. So many businesses are vulnerable to online reviews and in most cases the reviewer is not held accountable. Free speech does not imply “freedom from responsibility”.  Speech can impact good people who are doing their best to run a business and provide valuable services to the community.


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Florida Doctor Sues Patient For Posting Bad Review Online


May 24, 2012

“Florida Doctor Sues Patient For Posting Bad Review Online”

Fox News, Orlando

 ORLANDO, Fla. –  A Florida plastic surgeon has filed a lawsuit against one of his patients for posting an unfavorable review of him online.

Dr. Armando Soto told My Fox Orlando he filed the suit to protect his reputation and his business. The unnamed patient allegedly trashed his services online at the website Rate MDs, posting complaints about a breast surgery.

Attorney Larry Walters tells My Fox Orlando although the patient may be covered by free speech laws, this protection will only apply if the criticism is valid. “You cannot cross the line and make false statement of fact about a person that causes damages to that person,” he said.

Dr. Soto tells My Fox Orlando he has been in contact with the patient he filed the suit against, and they are trying to work it out. He said he believes his suit against the patient could soon be dropped.


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WESH: Online Comment Prompts Lawsuit From Plastic Surgeon

May 23, 2012

“Online Comment Prompts Lawsuit From Plastic Surgeon”

WESH, Orlando, Florida


ORLANDO, Fla. —Posting comments and complaints about a business is something more people are doing in the digital age, but an Orlando plastic surgeon has filed a lawsuit against a patient who let her opinions be known online.

Dr. Armando Soto filed a lawsuit against a woman who let her feelings be known online.

According to the woman’s attorney, she made the comments on She saw Soto to improve her stomach, but her assessment was, “Wasted money, bad experience, my love handles look bigger.”

Soto responded with a lawsuit seeking $49,000 in damages. Soto also filed the lawsuit against nine other patients.

The woman’s attorney, who is with Public Citizen, a consumer watch group out of Washington, said the lawsuit is part of a scary trend. “Dr. Soto is attempting to essentially scare off people from using their First Amendment rights,” Attorney Dave Muraskin said.

But Orlando attorney Howard Marks said many professionals aren’t going to take it anymore. Although Marks doesn’t represent Soto, he said he has similar lawsuits in the hopper. He said when the comments are false and malicious, they will act. “You really have no option. You either just sit there and take it and let your reputation be destroyed, or you try and fight back,” Marks said. Marks said to think twice before making a post.

Soto said he would not go on camera, but on his blog he posted, “We prefer our patients communicate this to us directly. It affords us the opportunity to make it right.”

A representative said Soto’s office is in contact with the woman and hopes to redo her surgery and drop the lawsuit. The woman’s attorney said he had no knowledge of that.


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