Dentist Sues Writer of Negative Online Yelp Review
Have you ever given someone or some business a bad review online? Well, you'd better keep what you write in check, or else you could end up getting sued like the California couple who bashed a dentist on Yelp.
Dr. Yvonne Wong, the dentist, is going forward with a lawsuit against Tai Jing and Jia Ma for libel and emotional distress after a court ruled that she had enough grounds for a case, or, as they put it, "a probability of success on the merits." In a user comment, the couple accused Wong of giving their four-year-old son a filling that contained mercury and of making him lightheaded from anesthetic gas. Wong's lawyers say that the parents' review makes it seem like she did so without their consent.
Jing and Ma tried to get the suit thrown out, citing a California law that bans anyone from preventing discussion of matters of public importance. We'd agree that mercury fillings should be examined, but we also understand why the judge didn't buy their argument. Wong, for her part, also tried to sue Yelp, but that went nowhere, as the federal Communications Decency Act protects sites from any lawsuits due to user comments.
While we don't know the specifics of what happened, we do think that there should be limits to what you can get away with on the Web. Free speech is a great thing, we know, but that doesn't mean you can say anything about anyone for any reason without consequences. [From: MediaPost]