A California dentist is suing a couple for libel over a negative review on Yelp, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.
In the suit filed last month in Santa Clara County Superior Court, Foster City dentist Yvonne Wong is asking for damages over allegedly defamatory comments made by Tai Jing and Mia Ma of Los Altos about the care given to their son. The review by "T.J." said the dentist had used mercury in fillings and had given the boy laughing gas, making him "light headed."
Yelp is also named as a defendant, but Wong's attorney, John Terbeek, said he will probably dismiss those charges because Web sites are protected against liability for content their users post.
Another case in which a chiropractor sued a San Francisco man over a negative Yelp review was settled last week. Plaintiff Steven Biegel and defendant Christopher Norberg settled the libel suit, but terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Norberg had criticized Biegel's practice of billing insurance companies at a much higher rate than he bills patients and said he had found a different, "honest" chiropractor.
"Assuming that Chris was honest in describing his experiences with Dr. Biegel, he would likely have prevailed in this case," Yelp Chief Executive Jeremy Stoppelman wrote in a blog posting after the case was settled on Friday. "In addition, we think that the very act of suing a patient over a review (in light of the many other positive reviews that Dr. Biegel receives on our site) is customer unfriendly and may affect his business going forward."
Stoppelman adds that "It is worth noting that in 4 years of operation no Yelp user has been successfully sued and such cases are extremely rare."