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  1. #1

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    Could this qualify as "defamation"?

    Jurisdiction / State: New York

    A dentist I had visited a while back had sent me a "balance forward" statement 3 years after the last data of service, immediately followed by a completely erroneous itemized bill and an unauthorized charge on one of my credit cards within their file for the amount stated on their bill.
    At the time of the treatment, all the out-of pocket expenses were verbally negotiated and paid up front.
    It took me months to clean this up and get the charge to be reversed on my credit card.
    One year after this incident, the doctor had filled a lawsuit against me seeking payment for this factious billing. I had to show up three times in court, to answer the complaint, once the case was adjourned as the plaintiffs attorney had filled for application and for the trial itself. The judgment was in my favor and did not have to pay a dime.
    I had a lot of patience, did not hire an attorney and went through all this on my own ... after all this was over, I concluded that at least I could post a review against this doctor about the negative experience I had with him, which I did.
    Among others I had mentioned that this doctor will persuade you for unnecessary treatment, that this billing records are a mess and his unprofessionalism will make you sick to your stomach. My user id was my first name, my last initial. A week later there was a comment posted under my review by the plaintiff’s attorney advising me to take my defamatory statements somewhere else and that I would be a happier person if I would’ve paid my bills!
    In the meanwhile I have removed my review, just because I don’t want to hear anything from this doctor, nor his attorney … he had mentioned “defamation”, so I was worried that they could file a lawsuit on this ground. Is this possible? Can we even post a review now days and which are honestly describing what I had to go through?

    Looking forward to your response

  2. #2
    jacksgal's Avatar
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    Your expierence was factual however your wording
    I had mentioned that this doctor will persuade you for unnecessary treatment
    might cross line into defamation
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    thelawprofessor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacksgal View Post
    Your expierence was factual however your wording might cross line into defamation
    True although very difficult to prove. The best way to write reviews are honest without stating what might or will happen. For example "my experience was that the doctor had a propensity to recommend expensive treatments that other doctors advised were unnecessary." If that's true then the doctor's lawyer would have an impossible case to make. In these instances, they are usually hesitant to go to court because, as is said, where there is smoke there is usually fire.

    I had an issue with a doctor. My gut feeling was that he saw patients as a way to afford his expensive vacations, health concerns being secondary. I was once a little late to his office due to a rainstorm and called asking whether it was a problem (about 15 minutes late or so.) They told me to wait there and they'd get back to me. They never did. Keep in mind that this doctor NEVER made appointment times and I sat there for at least an hour on three separate occasions.

    Several weeks later I received a no-show bill from him for $150. I was furious. I called up and the secretary explained to me that it happened because I didn't show. I informed her of the above situation to her and she told me they had no record. They could only report that I didn't show so they intend to go through with the billing and collection if necessary. I wrote back a written letter stating that I am an attorney and bill for several hundred dollars an hour. On three occasions the doctor was an hour late, resulting in a bill of much higher than the $150. While I have the right to enforce damages, I will extend a one time professional courtesy and waive the difference. I never heard from them again.
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    Thank you for your response;

    Indeed, I had had not mentioned anything about the type of treatment he had rendered, nor any over-treatment in my post; however, this is totally accurate, the over-treatment I meant ... but would not like to go into details for the fact the this seems to be a very sensitive matter everywhere you look

    So, the follow up question I have is that if I could prove that he did over-treat, would he still have a case for "defamation"?

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    jacksgal's Avatar
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    Once again if this was your wording I see possible opening.
    I had mentioned that this doctor will persuade you for unnecessary treatment
    Its your use of word will that is keyword here
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    Sorry ... I understand now ... so, I could mention in my reviews the "unnecessary treatment he had performed on me" and put it in a different context and not use "WILL"

    Also, if the review has been removed as soon as I read the comment from the plaintiff's atty (it had been online for about 30 days), should they pursue any damages would they have a case?

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    thelawprofessor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by person81 View Post
    Sorry ... I understand now ... so, I could mention in my reviews the "unnecessary treatment he had performed on me" and put it in a different context and not use "WILL"



    Also, if the review has been removed as soon as I read the comment from the plaintiff's atty (it had been online for about 30 days), should they pursue any damages would they have a case?
    The case he has is questionable at best. And what are the damages? How many people have seen it - 30? Is the case worth the filing fees?

    In my experience, these kinds of cases never get filed because it's not worth it at all and could be harmful for them. What if you hired an attorney because you had to and his subpoena for the doctor's records showed a propensity to recommend surgery as often as the sun rises?

    Again, just my experience for what it's worth. I hardly think it's something you should be too nervous about.
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