Dentist Sues Another Unhappy Patient; Offers To Let Journalist See Patients' Private Files To Dispute Claims

from the zarrelli-school-of-reputation-management dept

Yelp — both a frequent target of misguided lawsuits and the host of many, many targets of similarly-misguided lawsuits — has instituted a nifty new flag that lets readers and reviewers know which businesses are issuing legal threats or filing lawsuits over negative reviews. The warning — pictured below — first showed up in May after Prestigious Pets went legal over a review it didn’t care for.

The warning has surfaced again at the page for Dr. Nima Dayani, a New York Dentist. Apparently, Dayani’s not a fan of criticism and has initiated legal proceedings against an unhappy customer, as Leticia Miranda of Buzzfeed reports.

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.”

This is an odd claim, considering Rohs never once uses the word malpractice in her review, or even alleges anything to that effect. She says she endured a very long wait to see Dr. Dayani and, when he finally did see her, he was “curt and dismissive.”

Dr. Dayani was curt and dismissive, and seemed annoyed with the way I answered his questions. But he did seem to be genuinely interested in finding out what was causing my pain, and how it can be helped. However, it was an absurdly long wait. After about an HOUR, I was finally seen (my appt was at 11AM). Then after speaking with him for about 5-10 minutes, he left me for “just a second” to deal with another patient… I didn’t see him for another half hour. 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. The rest was spent in his chair, without being offered a water or a magazine. And at the end of it all, 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.

Four lawsuits against four unhappy patients is no way to run a business. Dayani may claim he only goes after those posting “false” information, but his summation of Rohs’ complaint against him is so far off-base, it makes one wonder what he considers to be “false.”

But more disturbing than his tendency to sue negative reviewers is the offer he made to Buzzfeed News, as pointed out by Adam Steinbaugh.

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.

When a medical professional offers to potentially violate HIPAA privacy protections to protect his reputation, it’s a pretty good sign the medical professional doesn’t have much reputation left to burn. This indicates — along with the lawsuits — that Dr. Dayani isn’t quite as receptive to criticism as he claims.

The upshot is that Yelp is now publicly calling out businesses who use legal threats and litigation to manage their reputations. It serves as a counterweight to those whose ratings might seem suspiciously high and serve as a warning to those who might be unhappy with their experience, but not quite ready to retain a lawyer.

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Companies: yelp

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Comments on “Dentist Sues Another Unhappy Patient; Offers To Let Journalist See Patients' Private Files To Dispute Claims”

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Mason Wheeler (profile) says:


Back before I landed a job as a programmer, I paid the bills working at a clinic, and this was one thing they drilled into everyone’s heads again and again and again. Under no circumstances do you ever share patient information with anyone, without a release signed by that patient.

If I’d pulled a stunt like that, I’d have probably been fired, sued, and possibly even arrested for it!

mcinsand (profile) says:

Nah, a pretty good sign of something else

>>…it’s a pretty good sign the medical professional
>>doesn’t have much reputation left to burn.

I think this is more of a pretty good sign that Dr. D is going to find himself on the wrong end of a solidly-based lawsuit, unlike those that he’s flinging at former patients. As for his reputation, he still has some to burn, and he apparently never learned the rule of holes. Sure, he might already have a bad reputation in his area or state, but he could move elsewhere. Stupidity like this, however, can gain a broader audience with even more notoriety.

Anonymous Coward says:

“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.”

Threading the needle here – he has not (from the quote) offered to share patient records, he has offered records “related to” tje cases. If all the cases refer to problems regarding to time spent with the patient then he might have been offering to show his OWN and his staff’s OWN TIME records for time periods in question to rebut claims of wasting patient’s time and might have anonymized the records. For example, from 10:00 to 15:00 he, sequentially, saw patient A for 30 mins, patient B for 90 mins, took 1 hr lunch, saw patient D for 60 minutes and patient E for 60 minutes. Where A, B, C, D, E are never identified and never appear twice in the timeframes at issue. All backed up by assistant/receptionist etc separate records. Then he would be sharing his own practice time records, no personal information on the patients.

I dunno. Just avoiding leaping to judgement, testing alternative explanations, and looking at the gaps in the report.

streetlight (profile) says:

Re: He offered BuzzFeed News the opportuinty...

The OP doesn’t specify which records he was willing to share whether they were HIPAA protected or appointment records. We also don’t know from the report here how four other law suits the dentist brought against patients turned out. I think we need more information.

Maybe off topic, but it does seem the dentist didn’t find out the cause of the patient’s pain because he didn’t do much and asked her to go another dentist. A dentist should be able to diagnose the cause of tooth or jaw pain and either make the repair or recommend a specialist such as an endodontist for a root canal.

aldestrawk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

When you are offering information about records for only 4 patients in which some minor details are already known, it is pretty much impossible to anonymize (de-indentify is the term used in HIPAA) those records. Pretty much any detail, including appointment times is considered Protected Health Information (PHI) in the context of releasing it publicly to a media outlet. The only defense would be if those details were already public from the patients themselves.

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