Oregon Blogger Sued For Writing About Local Doctor
In the latest example, blogger Tiffany Craig in Portland, Ore. was just served with a $1 million lawsuit because she wrote on her blog that a local plastic surgeon, Dr. Jerry Darm, had his license revoked in California. Her post linked to a copy of the decision revoking Darm's license in California, but she didn't also say that his license is active in Oregon. Darm and his lawyer gave this statement to the local media: "A lawsuit was filed against the author who apparently is attempting to make the old news fresh by making up false accusations. We don't believe the First Amendment protects those who spread such falsehoods."
Craig has obtained a lawyer and, last week, filed a motion to dismiss Darm's lawsuit under Oregon's anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) law, according to a news report.
Assuming that Darm's license was indeed revoked in California, it's hard to imagine his case getting very far. For now, though, it's still pending. And while Darm's reaction might be extreme, it's not unprecedented. Several years ago California dentist Yvonne Wong made headlines by suing Yelp as well as the mother and father of a young patient over a bad review. Not only was the case dismissed against Yelp and the patients' mother, but Wong was ordered to pay them $81,000 to cover their attorneys' fees.
Additionally, last September, a judge in New York also dismissed a lawsuit against Yelp brought by a disgruntled dentist.
Then there's Medical Justice -- which has devised a unique way of quashing bad reviews. The company has created forms for prospective patients to sign that supposedly assign all future copyrights in reviews to the doctors.
Undoubtedly some doctors who complain about bad reviews feel unfairly targeted. But trying to shut down bad reviews is never a good idea. And suing a blogger for linking to an official document is extremely ill-advised.