In the age of social media, a single bad review can completely sink a business’s reputation and success.
A New York woman named Michelle Levine visited gynecologist Dr. Joon Song for what was supposed to be a normal exam last year, but things soon turned ugly when it came to the matter of the bill. Ms. Levine alleges that the doctor’s office charged her insurance company $1,304.32 for an annual that was supposed to be free. She also says that Dr. Song’s office demanded she have a pelvic exam for pain that she never complained about to tack on extra expenses that total $427.
Ms. Levine claims that she tried to resolve the matter with the gynecologist’s office, but that they never gave her her money back.
In reviews she posted to Yelp, Facebook, and Zocdoc, Ms. Levine lambasted Dr. Song’s practice as “very poor” and “crooked,” and also declared “I suspect that this doctor gives unnecessary procedure [sic] to a lot of people and then charges the insurance sky high prices and no one knows the difference. Everything about my one and only visit here has caused me emotional distress and panic, and now they want me to cough up an extra $500 for services I didn’t even need?”
Unfortunately for Ms. Levine, her complaints look like they might be costing her a lot more money than that.
Dr. Song took her to court, suing her for defamation, libel, and emotional distress. While Ms. Levine quickly pulled the reviews in the early stages of the lawsuit, Dr. Song isn’t relenting anytime soon. He wants a million dollars to cover damages, legal fees, and lost business.
Dr. Song’s lawyer proclaimed that,“While everyone is entitled to their opinion, outright lies masquerading as reviews can inflict serious damage to a medical practice or small business.”
Of the legal battle, Ms. Levine says “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.” She’s already spent $20,000 in legal fees, and it doesn’t look like Dr. Song will be backing down anytime soon.
Ms. Levine also claims that Dr. Song’s attorneys have been fighting dirty. She adds “They tried to drag my start-up wine-and-spirits technology business into it … They posted my entire medical record, including notes about my mental health, my bills, my insurance info, my driver’s license, birth date and home address.”
Dr. Song has reportedly refused to settle.
In order to cover her mounting expenses, Ms. Levine has started a GoFundMe asking for $80,000, titled “Right to Yelp, Right To Privacy.” She defiantly defends her Yelp review and asserts that it is part of her First Amendment right to free speech.