KIRO 7 TV: Former Patient Sued Over Negative Yelp Review

Former Patient Sued Over Negative Yelp Review 

Gary Horcher 

KIRO 7 TV 

November 6, 2015

When Wendy Wester felt she was treated wrongly by a Bellevue doctor, she felt safe when she took her frustrations to Yelp, to send a negative review. Her target was Dr. Alan Brown, an orthopedic surgeon. Wester wrote that Brown misdiagnosed her knee injury, and because of the misdiagnosis, she says she suffered a blood clot, which could have threatened her life.

Wester said after she suffered torn ligaments from a skiing accident, Dr. Brown diagnosed her knee injury as a torn MCL, which would not require surgery. She said even after appointments with Dr. Brown the next day, her actual injury — a torn ACL — was not diagnosed until she went to another doctor.

She wrote that she suffered a life-threatening blood clot from the actual injury.

According to the Yelp review and court documents, Wester wrote: “His enormous ego nearly cost me my life.  It is an understatement to say that I would not recommend him – ever.”

Dr. Brown, who also has a law degree, is now suing Wester for defamation. His suit, filed last week, says Wester made false and malicious statements, and damaged his business and reputation.

Wester’s attorney told KIRO 7 she had every right to publicly state her opinion. “She felt so strongly about what happened to her that she wanted to let other people to know what she had experienced and what her opinion about this doctor was,” said Seattle attorney Brad Davis. “I think (the lawsuit) is crazy.”

According to Dr. Brown’s suit, Wester was not merely stating her opinion. The title of the suit reads “Complaint for Intentional Interference with Contractual or Business Relations and for Defamation.”

“Everything my client said in the Yelp review was factual, was true, and or was opinion based upon her perspective.”Davis says that makes her Yelp comments Free Speech, protected by the First Amendment.

But it turns out, not everything posted on Yelp is legally protected. “It is whole new territory, uncharted territory, where the damages can be remarkable,” said Seattle University law professor Bryan Adamson, who says legally–Yelp opinions are protected–but if you get facts wrong–it could land you in court. “There are risks when you make statements,” he said. Professor Adamson says Yelpers should use caution. “If they say the wrong thing about the wrong person, and that person wants to sue for defamation, then that becomes a question of fact for a court to decide.”

Congress is now taking up a bill that would protect people who give businesses bad reviews online from expensive lawsuits.

Davis says his client will be vindicated. “I think ultimately the case will be dismissed in my opinion,” he said. “It’s ironic here that Yelp creates a forum to provide opinions, and yet this doctor has chosen to use Yelp as a basis for a claim of defamation,” Davis said.

SOURCE

Doctor Defamation Lawsuits

New York Daily News: Seattle Surgeon Suing Patient For ‘False And Defamatory’ Review On Yelp

Seattle Surgeon Suing Patient For ‘False And Defamatory’ Review On Yelp 

November 6, 2015 

Laurie Hanna, New York Daily News

 A Seattle surgeon is suing one of his patients after she posted a less than flattering review on Yelp.

Dr. Alan Brown claims that the Wendy Wester’s dramatic posting is defamatory and has damaged his business and his reputation.

Wester met with Brown in February 2013 after she injured her knee skiing.

Even though a different doctor operated on Wester, she was dissatisfied with the service provided by Brown’s Bellevue Bone & Joint Physicians surgery and made her feelings known online.

“It is an understatement to say that I would not recommend him – ever,” Wester said in the Yelp review of Brown’s clinic, according toSeattlePI.com. “His enormous ego nearly cost me my life.”

Wester later followed up her Yelp review with a formal complaint to the state medical board. She claimed Brown failed to diagnose the injury to her knee after an initial meeting at the Overlake Hospital emergency room in Bellevue, Wash.

However, Brown picked through Wester’s description of their interactions in his lawsuit and pointed out that several claims were untrue.

He contends Wester’s statements and her account of their interactions were “false and defamatory.”

Wester’s attorney, Brad Davis, said he believes records will show his client’s statements were not defamatory. “I just think it’s unfortunate,” the Seattle attorney said. “My clients (Wester and her husband) didn’t ask for this … But now they’re going to fight it.”

The lawsuit, filed at the King County Superior Court at Seattle, notes Brown’s assertion that Wester’s comments “continue to create a substantial danger to (my) personal and business reputation.”

Brown also claims the statement she made to state health officials contained false and malicious comments.

That statement was reviewed by the Washington State Medical Commission and dismissed in March this year, after a 10-member panel ruled the evidence did not show a violation had occurred.

Brown is acting as his own attorney in the matter and has not yet responded to requests for comment.

Source

Cross Reference

Other Doctor Defamation Lawsuits

Herald Net: Bellevue Doctor Sues Patient Over Negative Yelp Review

Bellevue Doctor Sues Patient Over Negative Yelp Review

November 6, 2015

Herald Net

BELLEVUE, Wash. — A Bellevue doctor has filed a defamation lawsuit over a negative review one of his patients left him online.

KIRO-TV reports that Dr. Alan Brown filed a lawsuit against Wendy Wester after she left a Yelp review claiming Brown’s misdiagnosis of her injury caused her to suffer a life-threatening blood clot.

Brown, who has a law degree in addition his medical degree specializing in orthopedic surgery, filed the suit last week saying Wester made false and malicious statements and damaged his business and reputation.

Wester’s attorney called the lawsuit crazy, saying his client was expressing her opinion about her doctor. He says the Yelp comments were protected by the First Amendment as free speech.

Source

Cross Reference

Other Doctor Defamation Lawsuits

Seattle PI: Bellevue Doctor Sues Patient Who Blasted Him On Yelp

November 4, 2015

“Bellevue Doctor Sues Patient Who Blasted Him On Yelp”

Levi Pulkkinen, Seattle PI

A Bellevue surgeon is suing an unsatisfied patient, claiming she defamed him in an online review posted to Yelp. In the lawsuit, Dr. Alan Brown claims his reputation and business were both damaged by a Yelp review posted by the woman, who had hurt her knee skiing. Brown also claims he’s owed for a complaint the woman made to state health officials that he says contained false, malicious statements.

The patient, Wendy Wester, has denied any wrongdoing. Her attorney, Brad Davis, disputed each allegation put forward by the doctor. Speaking Tuesday, Davis said he believes the record will show Wester’s statements were not defamatory. “I just think it’s unfortunate,” the Seattle attorney said. “My clients (Wester and her husband) didn’t ask for this. … But now they’re going to fight it.”

Brown did not return repeated requests for comment. He is acting as his own attorney in the matter.

Wester met with Brown, an orthopedic surgeon, in February 2013 after she hurt her knee skiing. A different doctor ultimately performed surgery on Wester related to her knee injury. Wester posted a negative review of Brown on June 3, 2014, to Yelp, a popular consumer ratings website. She followed that up with a formal complaint to the state medical board.

Brown claims Wester made “numerous false and malicious claims” in the Yelp review. In his lawsuit, Brown outlined Wester’s description of their interactions and pointed to several he claims were untrue.

As described in Brown’s lawsuit, Wester claimed Brown failed to diagnose the injury to her knee after an initial meeting at the Overlake Hospital emergency room. “It is an understatement to say that I would not recommend him – ever,” Wester said in the Yelp review of Brown’s clinic.

Brown contends Wester’s statements and her account of their interactions were “false and defamatory.” “By their very nature, this defendant’s publications have presented and continue to create a substantial danger to (my) personal and business reputation,” Brown told the court in the lawsuit, filed Oct. 27 in King County Superior Court at Seattle.

Brown also notes that Wester made a complaint to the Washington State Medical Commission, which licenses doctors in the state. Brown claims she did so with “provably malicious intent,” a claim Wester denies.

Speaking Tuesday, medical board deputy executive director Micah Matthews said Wester’s complaint was reviewed earlier this year. The complaint was investigated before being closed in March, after a 10-member panel ruled the evidence did not show a violation had occurred. Brown’s licensing record does not show any sustained complaints.

Filing a response to the lawsuit, Davis denied all of Brown’s claims while asserting the doctor brought any harm he’s suffered on himself.

It’s not clear how much money Brown is seeking. He claims his reputation was seriously harmed by the review, which as of Wednesday appeared in the “not currently recommended” reviews section of the Yelp page for the clinic where he works.

On Wester’s behalf, Davis asked the court to order Brown to pay his client’s legal costs if she prevails. An initial hearing date has not yet been set.

SOURCE 

Seattlepi.com reporter Levi Pulkkinen can be reached at 206-448-8348 or levipulkkinen@seattlepi.com. Follow Levi on Twitter at twitter.com/levipulk.

More Doctor Lawsuits