Friday, May 23, 2014

What A Tool

The endless review websites, from Angie's List, Yelp, Amazon to endless Blogs there are endless debates about what constitutes free speech and well not so free.

Builders Online have been covering the lawsuit with regards to Angie's and Yelp reviews. Remodeling magazine has the final word on what will not be a final issue as these sites need need reviews to sustain their existence.

And of course there is the issue that paid members generate better placement and in turn reviews when it comes to sites such as Angie's List. They too were sued over this issue.

Then the fake Yelp reviews and Amazon ones add more fuel the fire.
What defines free speech vs malicious defamatory speech? You got me. But even Forbes weighed in.

Overlawyered, a CATO website, documents the perils of a litigious society and they rightfully point at trial lawyers who have so burdened the system that is why for genuine needs and individuals it is impossible to get any access let alone assistance. Trust me on this one I have both fairly well down pat with regards to that. Pro Se, regardless, is the better way. Besides just like Lawyers you can outsource, well they also fairly suck but its way cheaper to at least farm some of it out. Research is just research. And proofreading is just that proofreading so why pay someone $250/hour when you too can exploit foreign labor for well below that.

But today they found my personal favorite a Doctor who felt his reviews were so harsh he also sued the writer. I had to laugh that this upset him and not a million dollar lawsuit which would have cost much more even if it was simply a nuisance one. This is one Doctor who has clearly more time than Patients. I think I have the perfect Lawyer for him, the fat bloated gas bag of the simple mind when it comes to blowharding about Justice. He could wear his Midnight Cowboy Gerry Spence castoff of which he is so proud. Talk about two gasbags, there is another one.

Never Shout "He's a Tool!" On a Crowded Website?
If hamburgers could sue, the courts (like the eater’s arteries) would be clogged. Scroll down any of the dozens of websites that rate restaurants and you’ll see food described in the vilest terms: hog slop, garbage-dump-ready, rat -meat. The proliferation of rating sites shows both that these sites are providing an appreciated service and that people love to give their opinion. But when you move from hamburgers and hotel rooms to rating people, quite often the fun ends.

Dr. David McKee, a Duluth neurologist, was not laughing when he saw what one former client wrote about him on a doctor-rating website. The reviewer, Dennis Laurion, complained that McKee made statements that he interpreted as rude and quoted a nurse who had called the doctor “a real tool.” As these statements echoed through the Internet, McKee felt his reputation was being tarnished. He sued, and so began a four-year journey that ended this year in the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Laurion was unhappy with the way McKee treated his father, who was brought to the doctor after he had a stroke. Laurion went to several rate-your-doctor sites to give his opinion. That’s just free speech, isn’t it?

It sure is, says Laurion’s attorney, John D. Kelly of the Duluth firm Hanft Fride. “The court held that what my client was quoted as saying was not defamatory,” he says. “I do think the Internet makes it much easier for persons exercising poor judgment to broadcast defamatory statements, however… a medium… doesn’t change the quality of a statement from non-defamatory to defamatory.”

But McKee’s lawyer, Marshall Tanick, of Hellmuth & Johnson, says no matter where it was said, defamation is defamation.

“The thing that’s often misunderstood is that this was not just about free speech, but about making actual false statements,” Tanick says. “The problem is today’s unfettered opportunity to express opinion, whether or not the substance of what’s said is true or not. We need some boundaries.”

But boundaries were not on the minds of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Free speech was. Chief Justice Lorie Gildea wrote, “The point of the post is, ‘This doctor did not treat my father well.’ I can’t grasp why that wouldn’t be protected opinion.” As to referring to the doctor as “a real tool,” Justice Alan Page wrote that the insult “falls into the category of pure opinion because the term … cannot be reasonably interpreted as a fact and it cannot be proven true or false.”

The takeaway from this case might be the knowledge that behind any rating service lie real people with real feelings. McKee spent more than $60,000 in the effort to clear his name, as he saw it. Dennis Laurion told the Star Tribune he spent the equivalent of two years’ income, some of which he had to borrow from relatives who supplied the money by raiding their retirement funds.

And that is why I don't use names even those in my lawsuit or even public figures despite that both are a matter of public record. And none of these people need free referrals or any type of marketing, negative or otherwise. They have taken enough from me. And yes there are tons of sites dedicated to Doctors, Lawyers and even Judges but they are nowhere near as popular or as trafficked. Given enough publicity and some celebratory endorsement perhaps more would use the Robing Room or the others that discuss matters of health and justice. Far more important frankly then where to get a good taco.

And for the record, frankly I don't get any of these silly review sites. Don't know you, don't know your history and if we have anything to determine legitimacy or veracity of your claims. There are many many ways to find qualified professionals, restaurants and other service professionals. It is called getting off your ass and off your computer. Well you are leaving to go to the dump waffle house someone named Claude recommends so just go there anyway and find out on your own.

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