SF Plastic Surgeon Files Defamation Claim Against Negative Reviewers Across The Country To Avoid SLAPP

from the slappity-slapp dept

Paul Alan Levy points us to the news of how a San Francisco-based plastic surgeon, Usha Rajagopal, has sued some people who wrote negative reviews of her work for defamation. However, he notes, despite the fact that she's in California and the reviews she's upset about appeared on Google -- a California-based company, she filed her suit in Virginia. Levy suggests that this was done to avoid California's anti-SLAPP statute, which would have allowed for immediate dismissal and the possibility of attorney's fees being awarded for the filing.

As for Rajagopal, Levy also points out that not only does she not like negative reviews, but a recent "devastating" report in SF Weekly, covered how Dr. Rajagopal had hired a firm who appears to have written a bunch of totally bogus positive reviews of her work on various review sites. As for the negative reviews that she's so upset about -- well, as the SF Weekly report notes, not all of Dr. Rajagopal's patients may have been able to express their views online:
Some of Rajagopal's patients disagree about her purported capabilities, as does the Medical Board of California. Documents obtained from the board and San Francisco Superior Court show that some patients -- who have not posted their stories in the comments sections -- have been hurt by Rajagopal. In one instance, a 35-year-old woman who was undergoing a fairly routine plastic surgery didn't get the chance to tell anyone about the quality of the doctor's care. Due to what the medical board has called Rajagopal's "gross negligence," the woman sustained a serious brain injury. She slipped into a coma, and never woke up.
Levy notes that Dr. Rajagopal remains under discipline by the California Medical Board, and highlights the details (pdf) of the case. It's often quite interesting how attempts by people to silence their critics get lots of people to actually investigate the details behind the original claims, isn't it?

As Levy notes, this is yet another reason why we should have a federal anti-SLAPP law to prevent this kind of forum shopping.
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Filed Under: anti-slapp, california, defamation, free speech, usha rejagopal


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  • identicon
    Jake, 9 Mar 2011 @ 4:38pm

    Firstly she should fire the company she hired, obviously did a terrible job. Who would write 30 plus, 5 star, glowing reviews. How obvious is that to any reader with an IQ greater than 9 that they are planted.
    So easy to take care of this. Everyone mark the reviews as unhelpfull.
    The great thing about "the comunity" is its ability to police this kind of activity.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2011 @ 5:01pm

    If you have a federal law, people will just forum-shop to another country.

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

  • icon
    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), 9 Mar 2011 @ 5:04pm

    Question?

    Isn't there a law against transporting opinions across state lines for immoral purposes?

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

  • identicon
    iveseenitall, 9 Mar 2011 @ 9:30pm

    Disturbing trend along the lines of suppressing anything remotely critical.
    And it's not only reviews and commentary. Much of what I read online lacks an independent point of view.
    Fear of retribution is ruining the atmosphere of freedom on the web.
    Like a four way stop sign. Credible, credibility gap, incredible, incredulous.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Mar 2011 @ 10:24pm

    Protecting a brand in part is creating confidence on the brand, without that honesty there is no credibility to any company or individual trying to do such things.

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

  • icon
    Ben (profile), 10 Mar 2011 @ 2:46am

    hired a firm?

    "Dr. Rajagopal had hired a firm who appears to have written a bunch of totally bogus positive reviews of her work on various review sites."

    So if she can afford people to troll the internet on her behalf, surely the MAFIAA can too?

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

    • icon
      ltlw0lf (profile), 10 Mar 2011 @ 8:09am

      Re: hired a firm?

      So if she can afford people to troll the internet on her behalf, surely the MAFIAA can too?

      I figured that was a given, especially with the number of industry trolls here...they can't all be working for the MAFIAA, some of them also have to be mercs working for the MAFIAA. Now we just need to find the evidence.

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


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