Commentary

Another Health Pro Sues Patient For Bad Yelp Review

Last week, it came to light that a San Francisco chiropractor had sued a former patient over a bad review on Yelp.

That was the first known instance of a Yelp user being sued for defamation, but not the last. This week, it emerged that a pediatric dentist in California, Yvonne Wong, has also sued over a negative Yelp write-up.

The reviewers, Tai Jing and Jia Ma, complained that their son was "light-headed" from laughing gas and that he received a filling containing mercury, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Wong's lawyer, John Terbeek, told the Chronicle that the parents had signed a consent form disclosing the use of mercury.

If so, it's not clear why the statements would be libelous. On the contrary, the statements would appear to have been true, based on the report in the Chronicle. Another lawyer representing Wong told MediaPost that she did not use mercury in the fillings. Regardless, the original statement still doesn't seem defamatory -- not when the American Dental Association says mercury in fillings is safe.

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Regardless of the merits of Wong's claim, filing the lawsuit doesn't seem to have helped her reputation -- at least not among Yelp users, who have taken her to task for suing an ex-patient. "I would choose a dentist which I feel comfortable and without the fear of getting sued if I share my after visit comments and personal experience with friends," wrote one.

"To sue your customer is overreacting. If there is no smoke, how can there be fire," chimed in another.

"I have first hand experience with this dentist, and believe me, do not go to her. That is unless you want to get sued for giving her a bad review," offered a third.

2 comments about "Another Health Pro Sues Patient For Bad Yelp Review".
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  1. Ellen Davis from Your Social Reputation, January 14, 2009 at 4:53 p.m.

    Using Yelp to help bolster your online reputation is not the strategy we recommend to our clients. Why? Yelp uses only SOME of the reviews posted - so business owners should pay attention to the review sites on Yahoo! and Google before worrying about if something will show up on Yelp. Why Yelp has users is beyond me. We have had small business customers ask their clients to review them online and reviews are in the user profile not the company. Yelps business model is not sound and it won't be long before they are gone.

    As for your business reputation: Business owners can contact the site posting a negative review and ask them to remove it. Some sites let you remove the text - not the rating. Either way, freedom of speech is still protected and companies need to proactively solve issues with clients as more people look to the Internet for recommendations on companies. It will be interesting to see what happens here as the website www.dontdatehimgirl.com has over 60K profiles on cheating boyfriends and they are protected... ah the new world of Web 2.0

  2. Ellen Davis from Your Social Reputation, January 15, 2009 at 12:07 p.m.

    Dr Pruitt misread my comment - my point is that YELP does NOT post all reviews it receives. YELP is NOT the place to have your reviews posted. We have clients who have asked their customers to post reviews on YELP and they don't show up. The customer wastes their time in trying to help the business owner with a review and the business owner wastes his time sending people to YELP. We suggest other more reputable places to post your reviews such as on GOOGLE and Yahoo Local. That way, you know what you are taking YOUR TIME to post is going to be seen.

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