Posted July 15, 2010 8:34 am by with 9 comments

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The next time you leave a scathing review of a business, you may want to make sure you are giving opinions and not stating falsehoods as facts. The former should see your speech protected. The latter could bring on the wrath of litigious cosmetic surgeon, determined to sue your butt for millions of dollars!

That’s the case in California, where a doctor is suing critics that filed negative reviews on and

[Dr. Kimberly] Henry’s lawsuit, filed in Marin Superior Court, claims libel and defamation, invasion of privacy and interference with prospective economic advantage. She is seeking $1 million in general damages, $1 million in special damages, unspecified punitive damages, legal costs, injunctions against the reviewers and restraining orders.

Twelve anonymous aliases have been listed and three defendants have actually been named in the case. How come three have been revealed? The naive owner of buckled upon receiving his first ever subpoena–quickly handing over the email and IP addresses of Henry’s critics.

<insert rolling eyes here>

To be fair, you can’t blame him for handing over the info. Blame the even more naive judge that issued the court order!

So, does the suit have any merit?

I guess that is for the court to decide. Stating opinions is one thing, but defamation laws are so complex that you don’t even need to make outlandish statements of fact, before you run afoul of them. Still, if a judge decides that Henry’s suit is without merit, he could enforce California’s law against so-called SLAPPs–strategic lawsuits against public participation–which are lawsuits aimed to squelch free speech of online reviewers.

Lastly, I’m left wondering why Henry didn’t simple give herself a nose-job and start again in a new city. 😛


  • Wow, you gotta wonder if this will help her reputation. I guess depending on what was said, her new slogan can be, “Like your new face or get sued”. Btw Andy, I laughed pretty hard when the Google Ads above were for plastic surgery. You branching out into other careers?

    • Yeah, you gotta love AdWords’ context matching! 😉

  • Having been involved in a lawsuit myself (as a defendant) in the past, I can tell you Andy that this Doc might be shooting himself in the foot. I am guessing, unlike the case brought by ePerks (currently LeapFish) against me, this case is bound to generate lots of media attention. If that is what he is looking for, good for him…

    Unlike TV Internet has a long memory even if his argument prevails. On the web he will go down as some one who sued his critics. I say very bad move to save he face, it may require a surgical intervention of some one of your caliber to actually help the doc!

    • That’s a good point. Even if the Dr. wins, it doesn’t look good that a search for her name will likely reveal the lawsuit.

  • The chance of it reducing the continued growth of online doctor reviews is remote. Doctors just have to get used to doing business in a new consumer generated healthcare system.

  • Joan

    I work in Marin county near Dr. Henry’s practice. Most of the comments I have heard from people re her lawsuit is extremely negative. Well, the general comment is why would I ever consider going to this surgeon because if I complain about anything, she’ll probably sue me.
    Also, I totally agree that Dr. Henry’s practice has suffered–it’s called the recession! When people are strapped to pay the mortgage, plastic surgery is no longer a high priority.
    Instead of retaining an attorney, I think the Dr. should have spent her money on a good public relations agent .

  • thanks sharing a cosmetics website,wholesale M.A.C cosmetics

  • susan

    People do not make complaints unless they are waranted- in other words I’m very sure dr henry’s skills as a cosmetic plastic surgeon are extremely poor. If her former patients do not like their surgical outcomes they should be entiltled to voice their complaints through various media outlets. online review sites. How could a court possibly unhold an unconstitutional california law which would challenge a persons right to free speech (SLAPP’S). Dr henry should lick her wounds and start up a new practice in another state/ city or stop cosmetic surgery altogether and practice reconstructive surgery only. These plastic surgeons think that any cosmetic plastic surgery outcome they produce is aesthetically acceptable because they are not held to any industry standards. The irony to this story is that people go to these so called physician healers to look and feel better but in the end a significant percentage of them look and feel worse and may have to have reconstructive revision surgery to look normal again. If a person can make a consumer complaint regarding a sloppy kitchen remodeling job or lousy service they recieved at a hotel then why shouldn’t a complaint against a physician be made especially when a person’s health/ well being is at stake.

  • susan

    sorry about the typo …thats uphold not unhold lol .. sorry …