NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Manhattan woman has found herself in a world of legal troubles after posting a bad review of a local doctor online.

Michelle Levine tells CBS2 she’s already spent close to $20,000 fighting the million-dollar suit which accuses her of defamation, libel, and causing emotional distress.

The plaintiff is Dr. Joon Song, a gynecologist Levine says she visited once in August for an annual exam.

“After I got a bill for an ultrasound and a new patient visit, whatever that means, and it was not billed as an annual I wrote a review about it,” she told CBS2’s Lisa Rozner.

She says she complained to the doctor’s office, but nothing happened. The lengthy critical review, among other things, complained of “very poor and crooked” business practices and was posted on sites like Yelp, Zocdoc, and Healthgrades.

“And I gave them one star on Facebook, which they also put in their complaint,” Levine said.

After getting sued, Levine says she took down all her reviews but Dr. Song still wants her to pay around $1 million in damages plus legal fees.

“It’s been kind of a nightmare,” the defendant said. “I just have this doctor that’s been suing me for a Yelp review and he won’t go away.”

Dr. Song wouldn’t go on camera to discuss the suit, but his attorney sent a statement to CBS2 saying in part: “While everyone is entitled to their opinion, outright lies masquerading as reviews can inflict serious damage to a medical practice or small business.”

Legal experts say it’s important to choose your words carefully when reviewing a business online.

“Truth is an absolute defense,” attorney Steve Hyman said. “If you do that and don’t make a broader conclusion that they’re running a scam factory then you can write a truthful review that ‘I had a bad time with this doctor’.”

Other experts say it’s important not to make broad generalizations.

“If you’re going to make a factual assertion, be able to back that up and prove that fact,” Evan Mascagni from the Public Participation Project said.

Levine says despite the legal headache, she doesn’t regret writing her review and will continue to fight to the end if she has to.

A spokesperson for Yelp tells CBS2 New York needs stronger legislation to protect reviewers from lawsuits, but in general it encourages businesses to resolve issues directly with consumers instead of resorting to litigation.

Comments (9)
  1. I am very happy to see a Dr taking stand against malicious, vendictive emotional erroneous accusations of some unfortunate patients. There is no protection for Drs against theses baseless claims of vendictive patients.

  2. Sam Williams says:

    Seems the woman made a broad assumption and put it out there for the world to see. She was wrong and should be held accountable, however, Dr. Song is out for revenge not justice. He knows she doesn’t have money. What he should consider is the fact that even though this woman was wrong, she probably has children who will be innocent victims should he proceed with his law suit. Kids don’t ask to be born – let alone to the parents they’re born to. Keeping things in perspective would help both the reviewer/patient and the doctor. I don’t believe her review harmed his practice. Who reads that stuff anyway? The doctor is now showing himself to be petty and vindictive and greedy. How about just making her write an apology in the same sites she posted her libelous review? If people really read them, then should take care of it. Stop wasting the courts’ time with ridiculous law suits.

  3. She sounds like a drama queen who didn’t get away with defamation. Who is she to tell a doctor how to bill a new patient for a first time visit. Obviously, he was not wrong to bill it that way or he would be the one facing legal troubles. Most people are so quick to whine in a review the one time something happens that they do not like, but wont take the time to review the good things a business offers. People love to shout off rooftops when something makes them mad, hoping others get mad for them. I work for an attorney. All the positive reviews for my boss are from actual clients. The negative reviews are from people who simply call an attorney for advice, and don’t get the answer they were hoping for, so they try to slander my boss. Ridiculous people. She deserves to be sued.

  4. She should organize protests and picketing in front of the doctor’s office until he drops this lawsuit,

  5. I hate Yelpers. Glad she is getting sued. Think before you post.

  6. footpain100 says:

    I found DPM Lawrence Silverberg online, who was called the “best podiatrist” on zocdoc, ratemds, google reviews and yelp. Lawrence Silverberg did three surgeries on my feet, which resulted in my disability. I live in constant pain.

    I posted my honest negative reviews on the various websites. After my critical reviews disappeared from RateMDs and my review on Yelp was filtered, I decided to create a blog about my horrible experience. Once I posted my blog, I was contacted by several people who were also harmed by Dr. Silverberg.

    Lawrence Silverberg not only generates fake positive reviews for himself but also runs a marketing company called Best Marketing NYC, creating fake reviews for other doctors.

    Lawrence Silverberg is a danger to the public health, and needs to be held accountable in order to prevent more people from falling into his trap of thinking he is the “best podiatrist”, which he falsely advertises with fake online reviews and through his marketing company.

  7. Sri Asamaan says:

    Another person, career, relationship, business, ruined because of social media. When will people ever learn to keep their mouths shut and stop posting online to the world everything you do, every place you go, every food you eat, every feeling you have, pictures of yourself, kids, pets, friends… get a real life!

    1. Josh Meehan says:

      Follow your own advice. Welcome to America.

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