You’re a plastic surgeon who recently operated on a woman named Cruella. Faithful to her name, Cruella likes to complain – even when there’s nothing to criticize! And after working with you, Cruella posted exaggerated gripes about your practice.
So, the question is: Can you sue Cruella for online defamation? Could you win?
What happens if a patient leaves a scathing online review about your plastic surgery practice?
Yes, you’re absolutely entitled to pursue a defamation lawsuit against patients who post libelous missive. That said, it’s important to understand the difference between defamation and a negative opinion.
What is the likelihood of a doctor winning a plastic surgery defamation case against a disgruntled patient?
What’s the biggest mistake plastic surgeons make when it comes to defamation lawsuits against patient? They sue over negative opinions.
Remember, legally speaking, defamation is a lie – not a nasty judgment.
What must plaintiffs must prove to win an online review defamation claim? That:
- They were the subject of the post;
- The post contained a false statement of fact that caused professional harm;
- The defendants negligently or purposefully posted the offending statements.
Plastic Surgery Defamation Case Study: Loftus v. Nazari – A Cautionary Tale For Plastic Surgeons
In 2006, Catherine Nazari walked into the office of Dr. Jean Loftus. She wanted a breast lift, implants, a double arm lift, and a “tummy tuck.” Surgery ensued, but Nazari wasn’t happy with the results. In 2010, the disgruntled patient started littering doctor review websites with negative posts about her surgeon.
A sampling of her disparaging comments:
But guess what? The judge ruled no-go; not defamatory. Why? Because the overtly overwrought rants would probably make a “reasonable person” take a step back and, shall we say, question the author’s use of hyperbole. Moreover, since the statements appeared on an “opinion website,” the judge said it would be “the natural tendency…to infer that they are opinion.”
Research Matters, Even If The Facts Are Wrong
If a defendant imparts inaccurate facts, but can prove they engaged in proper research, the defendant can win. In Loftus v. Nazari, the defendant’s free speech rights trumped the plastic surgeon’s. And since the Nazari truly believed her statement, the judge sided with her.
Not All Defamation Lawsuits Are Created Equal. Just Because One Person Ducked Damages, Doesn’t Mean You Don’t Have A Viable Case
Does this mean you shouldn’t pursue an online defamation case? Absolutely not. Many plastic surgeons win – or at the very least succeed in getting disparaging material removed from the Internet.
Do you have a plastic surgery defamation problem? Get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law, today. We can help clear any legal hurdles slowing you down.