Dentist Has To Pay Legal Fees For Suing Yelp & Reviewer Over Bad Review

from the anti-slapp-and-section-230 dept

We've had a number of posts lately about lawsuits over bad Yelp reviews, and it appears they're not going so well. We pointed out a doctor losing a lawsuit over bad reviews, but Eric Goldman has the latest, in which a dentist who sued has to pay $80,000 in legal fees, not just to the reviewer, but also to Yelp itself. You see, the dentist and/or his lawyer apparently didn't bother to understand that Section 230 of the CDA protects the service provider from such a suit (which doesn't say much good about the lawyer). Once the lawyer learned of Section 230 (a bit late), they dismissed Yelp from the case... but the court still awarded legal fees to Yelp's lawyers. Hopefully this helps lawyers learn that filing bogus lawsuits against service providers over the actions of their users is not a smart move.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Lisa Westveld (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 3:02am

    Unfortunately...

    Unfortunately, the dentist has to pay for his lawyer's stupidity. If a lawyer is so dumb that he doesn't know about section 230 then he doesn't do his profession a favor. And he caused a lot of damage for his client.
    Maybe that dentist should now take his lawyer to court so he doesn't have to pay all those costs himself.

     

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  2.  
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    The eejit (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 4:00am

    Re: Unfortunately...

    No, the dentist deserves to pay a part oft his for trying to stifle criticism, as well.

     

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  3.  
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    Kurto (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 4:14am

    Re: Unfortunately...

    Agreed. This is just professional incompetence - just as if a doctor or accountant doesn't meet professional standards they can be sued.

    The dentist himself should be on the hook for the costs relating to the reviewer for deciding to bring the case, but he should be able to reclaim the part awarded to Yelp from his lawyer.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 4:37am

    Re: Unfortunately...

    Fortunately, the dentist has to pay for his own stupidity

    ftfy

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 4:43am

    Re: Unfortunately...

    The client was one that deserved to have a lot of damage HAPPEN to them, so I can't really garner much sympathy.

     

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  6.  
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    Richard (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 5:03am

    Re: Re: Unfortunately...

    It's not about sympathy for the dentist - rather it's about making sure that the stupid lawyer also pays - to discourage other lawyers from filing such claims in the first place.

    I agree tha the dentist deserves to pay I just think that it's important that the lawyer also takes a hit - to reduce this stupidity in future.

     

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  7.  
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    Another AC, May 25th, 2011 @ 5:11am

    Re: Re: Re: Unfortunately...

    I agree. The ruling should have gone something like this. Dentist and lawyer are required to pay legal fees at a proportionate rate that takes into account the cost to the dentist for his legal counsel. Dentist pays an "I'm a thin skinned buffoon" amount and his lawyer gets to to pay the "I need to go back to law school" fee.

     

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  8.  
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    Coasty (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 5:17am

    Dang... Don't you ever go to bed Mike!!!

     

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  9.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 5:49am

    Re:

    Dang... Don't you ever go to bed Mike!!!


    Sleep is for the weak.

     

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  10.  
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    Richard (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 5:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Unfortunately...

    his lawyer gets to to pay the "I need to go back to law school" fee.

    Couldn't we just apply this to ALL lawyers - on a regular basis?

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Bengie, May 25th, 2011 @ 5:55am

    Re: Re:

    "Sleep is for the tired"

    There, fixed :-)

     

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  12.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 5:55am

    Re: Unfortunately...

    I think the dentist needs to leave a nasty Yelp review for the lawyer. =]

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 5:57am

    He should not have to pay his lawyer for being incompetent, but he should however have to come up with the 80k himself to pay for his STUPID idea of shutting up a critic.

    This dentist is morally bankrupt and soon financially bankrupt. Nobody should trust him within inches of their mouth!

     

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  14.  
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    Oblate (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 6:24am

    Re: Unfortunately...

    From the article: "The dentist foolishly sued Yelp in the lawsuit but voluntarily dismissed Yelp after the plaintiff's lawyer decided that 47 USC 230 immunized Yelp."

    Not clear if it was the lawyers or the dentists idea to sue Yelp in the first place, but I can't imagine how the lawyer didn't know about 47 USC 230 before filing. The article also states that the Yelp portion of the damages is "at least $8k of the fees", which is a lot lower starting point than I would have guessed, so it appears the bulk of the damages are to the defendants. Also interesting is that there is an defamation claim still proceeding, so the dentist may get some of his money back.

     

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  15.  
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    DannyB (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 6:26am

    Re: Unfortunately...

    I think the dumb dentist should have to pay for hiring a dumb lawyer.

    The dumb lawyer probably would sue over bad reviews just like the dumb dentist did.

    The dumb lawyer has demonstrated he is dumb.

    The dumb dentist also has because if he were any good he'd be doing what he does best instead of suing. Oh, wait. The dumb suing dentist is doing what he does best.

     

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  16.  
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    DannyB (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 6:29am

    Re: Re: Unfortunately...

    The dentist can do what he does best.

    Sue.

    Sue the lawyer for malpractice. That way the lawyer does share a part of the penalty for both of their stupidity.

     

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  17.  
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    DannyB (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 6:29am

    Re: Re:

    Sleep is a poor substitute for caffeine.

     

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  18.  
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    Overcast (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 7:30am

    Sounds like the both got what they deserved.

    See Mr. Dentist - you may not want customers who base their decision to go to a doctor solely on a web review.

    Case in point here:

    I was referred to a surgeon by my family doctor, who I trust. I read a couple reviews on this surgeon and in said reviews, one had commented that he was cold, uncaring, didn't explain things, was arrogant and had a bad bed-side manner.

    I was cynical of the review, I trust my family doctor's *professional opinion* over the web review.

    After meeting the surgeon, I found the review was horribly off; the guy explained everything to me, was very cordial, friendly, and most importantly - he was well experienced.

    Don't trust your health to a web review, lol.

     

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  19.  
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    davebarnes (profile), May 25th, 2011 @ 8:13am

    Just so we keep the idiot dentist's name in lights.

    "The ruling, issued last week by Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Peter Kirwan, directs dentist Yvonne Wong to pay attorneys' fees and legal costs to Yelp, as well as Tai Jing and Jia Ma, parents of a 6-year-old patient of Wong's."
    http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=150711

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 10:19am

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 10:32am

    Everyone on techdirt seems to be jumping on the dentist. I'm not so quick to make assumptions.

    http://www.eastbayexpress.com/eastbay/yelp-and-the-business-of-extortion-20/Content? oid=1176635

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 25th, 2011 @ 12:27pm

    Re: Unfortunately...

    ultimately falls on the Dentist. When you are suing someone, it doesn't hurt to hire two firms to come up with a strategy. Another firm would have advised this Dentist differently, giving him pause, possibly.

    Attorneys just do a cost/benefit analysis and go with whatever will work out for them long term, like the rest of us.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    John McCloud, Jun 2nd, 2011 @ 10:36pm

    Mike

    Your a moron Mike-go to bed where you belong. Yelp Sucks & so do Y0U!

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Better Life, Jun 7th, 2011 @ 9:12am

    Reality

    I see lots of hate and envy for educated lawyeres and dentist! Education will lighten up your life and make you smart. Rich Yelp getting richer by the seconds and telling you how to choose is like rich China telling you how to consume. Stop! Donot be a slave to garbage. Do not ENVY!!!!!

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Noah V, Jul 5th, 2011 @ 10:54pm

    . . . the dentists needs to leave a nasty yelp

    www.avvo.com is now accepting lawyer ratings.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Noah V, Jul 5th, 2011 @ 11:08pm

    Dentist pays legal fees

    The pity is that not all states allow for this. In most states the dentist could file a suit, get dismissed, file an appeal, and get dismissed again.

    Then, the couple she sued would be told they "won," after they've spent their children's inheritance or refinanced their house to keep up with the dentist's spending.

    This is from
    http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=MB0VAAAAIBAJ&sjid=wgMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6682%2C2701449
    and
    http://chronicle.augusta.com/stories/2001/08/27/bus_321610.shtml :

    Message-board participants have the right under the First Amendment to voice their opinions. That freedom is troublesome for companies and their legal and public-relations staffs, which wince about the complaints and scramble to correct inaccurate information that could be posted by consumers, investors, employees or competitors.

    If a company sues, alleging simple business disparagement or perhaps defamation, its goal isn't necessarily to win, said Marshall Tanick, a First Amendment expert at Mansfield & Tanick in Minneapolis. The strategy is "to force the other person to incur huge legal expenses that will deter them and others" from making such statements, he said.

    Companies typically shy from suing customers because it creates bad publicity. Thus, much of the legal activity involves employees or former workers. "I'm seeing it happen with increasing frequency ... yet very few (cases) go all the way" to trial and verdict, Tanick said.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Mike, Aug 9th, 2011 @ 4:20pm

    Dentists and Lawyers Could Anything Be Worse?

    I don't know what is worse, hating on dentists or Lawyers, they both cause pain, and significant suffering.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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  31.  
    identicon
    Dentist Vaughan, Mar 27th, 2012 @ 7:48pm

    Proper regulation

    I think that this is a new channel, which in my point of view, requires appropriate regulation.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    rich1, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 8:13am

    refinance rates

    "Dentist Has To Pay Legal Fees For Suing Yelp & Reviewer Over Bad Review" This is great post..
    Thanks for post this article..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    rich1, Apr 17th, 2012 @ 8:15am

    refinance rates

    "Dentist Has To Pay Legal Fees For Suing Yelp & Reviewer Over Bad Review" This is great post..
    Thanks for post this article..

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Dentist Bundaberg, May 1st, 2012 @ 5:13am

    I am also a dentist. You have shared very useful information. It will be helpful for me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Dentist Bundaberg, May 1st, 2012 @ 5:13am

    I am also a dentist. You have shared very useful information. It will be helpful for me.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    icon
    Tellitlikeitis (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:01pm

    Yelp is a joke

    I had a business on Yelp! Several as a matter of fact. I had tons of great reviews and then I started dating this psycho who harassed me, wrote a horrifying review, Yelp "hid" my good reviews (they were previously unhidden) and allowed this slanderous one to be made public. After several emails back and forth and lawsuit threats (he accused me of an illegal act) they took the review down, but never unhindered my other good reviews. Then I moved. It took them no less than 10 notifications to show the one location as closed. During the time I was trying to get the location to show as closed, this scumbag wrote another scathing review. Yelp's response? "we have determined this review is a true opinion of the client". Um, HELLO? I WAS NO LONGER OPEN AT THE TIME AND LOCATION THE REVIEWER CLAIMED "she" WAS THERE!! It's still on there? THEN, I open another studio, everything is going great until I move out of the state and close my business completely. Notified Yelp, again, several times, business is still listed as open. I even got creative, changed some information, told the moderators off, but it is still listed. Now people are showing up and getting upset with the new tenants and giving me a hard time in emails and phone calls. WTF! Yelp seems to employ little techie nerds with zero customer service skills (the old school term would be douchebag), but as long as people use their service they will continue to be douchebags and hide behind Internet laws that should (and from what I've been reading are changing at a rapid pace) be changed. Oh, and this is JMHO....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Shadi, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 11:07am

    Have you seen the pictures on Yelp's listing on Yelp? Just saw a few, pictures of employees you can tell they were hand picked, I don't think normal good people would want to work for Yelp! There is one picture of this "Yelps Rules" wrote in the sands! This alone shows the mind set of these inhuman people! They believe they have they are ruling our lives! They are aware of destroying lives and they are proud of it! Hoe creepy is that!

    People in over seas pull down dictators by putting their lives on the line, why can't we have an organized demonstration to bring light and attention to this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Shadi, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 11:08am

    Have you seen the pictures on Yelp's listing on Yelp? Just saw a few, pictures of employees you can tell they were hand picked, I don't think normal good people would want to work for Yelp! There is one picture of this "Yelps Rules" wrote in the sands! This alone shows the mind set of these inhuman people! They believe they have they are ruling our lives! They are aware of destroying lives and they are proud of it! Hoe creepy is that!

    People in over seas pull down dictators by putting their lives on the line, why can't we have an organized demonstration to bring light and attention to this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Shadi, Sep 20th, 2012 @ 11:09am

    Have you seen the pictures on Yelp's listing on Yelp? Just saw a few, pictures of employees you can tell they were hand picked, I don't think normal good people would want to work for Yelp! There is one picture of this "Yelps Rules" wrote in the sands! This alone shows the mind set of these inhuman people! They believe they have they are ruling our lives! They are aware of destroying lives and they are proud of it! Hoe creepy is that!

    People in over seas pull down dictators by putting their lives on the line, why can't we have an organized demonstration to bring light and attention to this?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    icon
    Dentist Edinburgh (profile), Feb 28th, 2013 @ 7:15am

    Yell makes my headaches !

    I really don't like Yell... It damages many business (I mean reviews). It is more likely for unhappy patient to make a review (bad of course) rather than the patient that left dental office disgruntled.
    So my question is... are these reviews accurate ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    anonim, Feb 28th, 2013 @ 9:32am

    Re: Yell makes my headaches !

    I think it apply to other industries as well not only dentistry... Restaurants for example! There is so many frustrated diners that didn't get their discount because FRIES WERE WARM (end of the world btw) so they go online and cause huge damage to the business by writing bad reviews, oftentimes colorful like a good tale

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    David, Apr 25th, 2013 @ 9:41am

    Wow that's a stupid lawsuit. How can someone sue sites like Yelp that allow users to post their honest reviews and expect to win?
    dental negligence

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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