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Dentist Sued for Trying to Silence Patient Criticism

This dentist doesn’t seem to be too keen on waiting till complaints against her evolve into a full-fledged dental malpractice lawsuit. According to a lawsuit that has been filed a dentist has attempted to prevent patients from commenting on her dental work online, and then retaliated against them when they did. Trust me, as an Atlanta Dental Malpractice Attorney who has been practicing law for over 20 years, I have seen it all, including a local Atlanta dentist who attempted to require new patients to sign a form agreeing to arbitration in lieu of being able to file a lawsuit if the dentist committed malpractice.

The lawsuit has been filed against the dentist who also happens to moonlight as a classical singer, by former a patient. According to the lawsuit, the Plaintiff/former patient visited the dental office with a dental problem, and was surprised when she asked him to sign an agreement not to criticize her work online. The agreement called the Mutual Agreement to Maintain Privacy had to be signed before she agreed to work on his tooth.

The Plaintiff/former patient admits to signing the agreement, and then he went on the website Yelp to accuse the dentist of shoddy work. According to his criticism posted on Yelp, she overcharged him by as much as $4,000.  The dentist accused the former patient of breaching their agreement, and retaliated by billing him $100 for every day that the negative comment remained posted on the internet.

The Plaintiff/former patient has contacted consumer safety group Public Citizen. According to Public Citizen, the agreement that the dentist makes patients sign, restricting their rights to post any opinions about her work online, is a violation of the patient’s constitutional rights to free speech. It is also a violation of dental ethics. This case does highlight a number of interesting legal issues. Among others: Are patients free to contract away their right to free speech? Can a contractual clause prohibiting a patient from criticizing a dentist forbid the patient from sharing her opinion on line?

The agreement forms were created by a North Carolina company, and are shipped to about 2,000 doctors and dentists across the country. Thanks to the attention this  lawsuit has received, the company has decided to phase out the forms, and has informed its clients not to use these anymore. That sounds like a good idea for a number of reasons.

Attorney Robert J. Fleming has been handling wrongful death cases, automobile accident cases, personal injury cases, dental malpractice and medical malpractice lawsuits for individuals and families who have been harmed, injured or died as a result of the carelessness or negligence of another for more than 20 years in and around Atlanta, Georgia and its surrounding areas, including Alpharetta, Austell, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, College Park, Conyers, Duluth, Decatur, Doraville, Hapeville, Johns Creek, Jonesboro, Lawrenceville, Norcross, Peachtree City, Riverdale, Roswell, Sandy Springs, Stone Mountain, and Smyrna. If you have been seriously injured and would like quality legal representation, contact Robert J. Fleming directly on (404) 525-5150 or contact us online.

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