A HUNTER-based doctor has been sued for defamation over a fake Google review in which he implied a well-known surgeon was ripping off her patients.
The victim Dr Korana Musicki's attempts to have Google remove the review were ignored. The online giant also refused to give her the contact details of the so-called patient, court documents say.
She was forced to take it to the Federal Court where Justice Debra Mortimer ordered Google to hand over documents relating to the author's description.
The review was written under the pseudonym of 'Dave Cross' with the email address 'email@example.com' which Dr Musicki recognised as belonging to Dr Erik de Tonnerre.
Dr De Tonnerre had been a medical student under her supervision at the Royal Melbourne Hospital in 2018.
The review, published about September 22, 2020, contained a series of defamatory statements including that the supposed patient author had a "terrible experience".
"(She) was super keen to get me onto the table but then impossible to get ahold of for follow up, vague about incurred expenses, ended up with a massive bill. had no issues with the surgery but overall negative experience and no followup."
The review was eventually removed on April 1, 2022.
Judge Mortimer found the review implied that Dr Musicki pushes her clients to have surgery for her own personal benefit, and is negligent as a surgeon in that she does not provide proper medical post-surgery follow-up.
It suggested she rips off her clients by failing to provide clear costings when requested, and that she provided a negative customer experience for the patient Dave Cross.
The location of that review, alongside other reviews of her performance of medical services, made it worse, Justice Mortiner said.
"The applicant is entitled to damages to compensate her for hurt feelings, for damage to her reputation and to vindicate her reputation."
Dr de Tonnerre failed to respond to multiple attempts to serve papers on him.
His registered principal place of practice is New Lambton Heights, and he has worked at John Hunter Hospital but is no longer employed there.
In February the original application and Dr Musicki's statement of claim was delivered "return to sender" back to her solicitor. Attempts were also made to contact him via text message to a mobile phone registered to him.
His "non-compliance" with the court's orders was a clear attempt to avoid service and avoid "participating in the proceeding" Justice Mortimer said.
Dr Musicki was entitled to damages the amount of which would be determined at a damages hearing.
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