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Chris T., JD
Chris T., JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3746
Experience:  Experienced in both state and federal court.
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Short version I am an optometrist. Gave pt. exam, gave her

Resolved Question:

Short version: I am an optometrist. Gave pt. exam, gave her prescriptions for glasses and contacts. She ordered contacts online and glasses at another shop. Apparently she had trouble seeing with the Rx given to her and went to another doctor who changed her RX..
The first we heard of this is with two of her threatening phone calls to my manager and two faxes, also threatening in nature...Rx changes and remakes are not uncommon for numerous reasons, let's just say every doctor has a small percentage of them every month.
Standard procedure is to send pt back to examining Dr. to resolve the issue.
Bit long but to give you an idea of my question of blackmail, I am going to re-type pt's first fax to us: Dear Roland
I have enclosed a copy of my prescription per your request that was used to remake my glasses. I have blocked out specific information complying with the HIPPA laws. I have listed my costs:
initial exam:(me/John) $65.00
Initial purchase of glasses with lenses: $294.95
second eye exam (another dr.) $150.00
second purchase of lenses: $140.00
purchase of contacts with this wrong prescription: $102.97
Total for the entire fiasco= $752.94, not to mention the fact that I have not been able to see out of my glasses and drove 40 miles to see this Dr. (me/John)!
Total that should be reimbursed due to Dr. John mistake-$649.97. I have been assured by 1-800 cl that they will reimburse me the cost of the contacts.
As you can see the prescription that Dr John wrote me is not anywhere near what I needed.
I appreciate all of your help with this matter and am confident that you will rectify this matter without having to go any further with my customer complaint. As I told you over the phone I have notified 1-800 CL and they are awaiting confirmation from me that the matter has been handled to my satisfaction before submitting a company referral complaint against your practice.
(This next part is the disturbing part to me)
If not satisfied I assure you that this matter will be made public record. with today's social media, ti wouldn't take long to get the word out that this practice is questionable. The two different prescriptions are evidence enough that I was not given a proper eye exam. Going into his lack of professionalism is another matter entirely. I think the board may be interested in that, but I trust that we won't get that point.
The second fax the patient stepped it up a few notches and included personal accusations on my professionalism etc...(not true) The ending of the second fax is:
As I said before Roland, (mgr), it's good business to make your customers happy. It's very bad to piss them off. Especially a woman who spent 30 years in Marketing, one that currently works in a state system and knows how it works and has the time to make sure it does! And then of course there is the constant access to social networking that we all have. But more importantly a woman who has no problem making sure that this entire fiasco is made public. I'll make it my mission to educate anyone searching for the services you provide in our area.
Sorry so long....Basically if I/ the store (small shop...3 people run it) doesn't pay this patient over $600...(all but my exam of $65.00 was for services and materials outside this practice), she has threatened to make public etc...(per above)...Believe me this is the short version...She would add to her list untrue examples of my being unprofessional etc...(all easily can be shown to be false)..
I'm not a lawyer obviously, but the above sounds like blackmail???
Never used this service, but anticipate your response. Thanks in advance
John
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Chris T., JD replied 2 years ago.

TexLawyer :

So, she essentially threatened to publicly denounce your practice if you don't give them a total refund, correct?

Customer:

yes

Customer:

a refund for purchases and services outside our practice

TexLawyer :

OK. Let me look a few things up. I'll be right back with you.

TexLawyer :

This is not considered extortion or blackmail, and, unfortunately, not something that will form the basis of a fruitful lawsuit.

Customer:

why would it not be blackmail?

Customer:

she is demanding money be given to her for services and materials not purchased at our office, or will go public

TexLawyer :

Under federal law, blackmail involves refranining from reporting a a person has committed a crime in exchange for money or a thing of value.

TexLawyer :

The statute can be seen below:

TexLawyer :

Sec. 873. Blackmail -STATUTE- Whoever, under a threat of informing, or as a consideration for not informing, against any violation of any law of the United States, demands or receives any money or other valuable thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Customer:

Blackmail is a common method of extortion. Blackmail is extortion by threatening another person's or organization's reputation with the disclosure of information that would be damaging to that party if released. This incriminating information may be true or false. The actual disclosure of this information does not have to be criminal, nor does the offender have to actually receive money, property, or other benefits for the act to be considered extortion. The act is extortion because the individual demands money, property, or other considerations in exchange for non-disclosure of this information.

TexLawyer :

If they were threatening to spread false rumors, you would have a good civil case. Or, if they were threatening to do physical harm, you would have a good criminal case, but a customer threatening to loudly complain because they didn't get the service they wanted is not against the law.

TexLawyer :

That's from wikipedia, correct?

Customer:

criminal law lawyer source

Customer:

you are aware she is demanding money from my practice for services and materials gotten elsewhere..

Customer:

the only thing she paid for at my practice was $65 for an eye exam

TexLawyer :

As you can see above, section 873 of title 18 United States Code defines what federal law considers blackmail.

TexLawyer :

I understand that, but she is claiming that she incurred other costs because of the wrong prescription.

TexLawyer :

Your best recourse would be to engage them in a civil lawsuit if they do publicly slander you.

TexLawyer :

The way to keep them from following through on their threat is, more or less, a threat of your own.

Customer:

that is why I thought letting her know in a friendly way she is black mailing me would put an end to this

Customer:

I thought it would have more bite than letting her know that she is bordering on lible with the things she said pertaining to my professionalism

TexLawyer :

Your course of action really depends on exactly what she says.

TexLawyer :

If what she says is in any way factually incorrect, you have a case for libel or slander (depending on how she spreads her message).

TexLawyer :

You would likely have a claim for tortuous interference.

Customer:

all patients who have a problem with their prescriptions are sent back to their examining dr for a recheck....she chose to go to another dr. and purchase glasses elsewhere. Most places do a no charge courtesy remake on a dr change. So I find her claims ridiculous.

Customer:

I guess as a backdoor question, does she have any bite to her claim for reimbursement for an exam an materials purchased elsewhere?

Customer:

I was pondering faxing her a rebuttle to her accusations etc...but then I think the best thing may be to just file her away?

TexLawyer :

She may have a legitimate claim for some of her expenses.

Customer:

if she calls respond with we have read your e-mails and have nothing further to say???

Customer:

Not sure if youi wear glasses, but there is no such thing as a wrong prescription....It can be written down wrong etc...but a final rx is documented and her vision was documented at 20/20 with rx.

Customer:

as I said there are so many reasons why an rx can change , even in a day

TexLawyer :

It depends. If you think she is bluffing, that would be a proper response.

TexLawyer :

I do wear glasses. She likely has a very difficult lawsuit to win. However, if she did, she would be entitled to damages more than just the $65.

Customer:

well I'm not too worried about her social networking etc...threat or threat to write board, I will just explain my side of things....and she never threatened legal action......

TexLawyer :

If you think she's serious about her threats, you could threaten to sue for interference with business relationships or tortuous interference.

TexLawyer :

That is just one of the downsides to living with social media.

TexLawyer :

While the good things people say is amplified, so are the negative things.

Customer:

never heard of them before??haha

Customer:

but they sound good

TexLawyer :

Essentially, both make it a crime to intentionally interfere with the business prospects of another person.

Customer:

almost done, would you go the ignore route or the threaten with those two you mentioned? I'm thinking as long as she doesn't threaten legal action, which would cost more than her recovery, then I don't want her to get any more gas on her fire

TexLawyer :

It is more complicated that that, and is not easy to prove, but it is a legitimate threat.

TexLawyer :

It is actually one of the more difficult torts to prove.

TexLawyer :

But, it is something you can use to make the situation go away.

Customer:

so just threaten with the interference with bus relation. .....alone

Customer:

a rebuttal letter with threat

Customer:

or ignore customer?

Customer:

not bring in the blackmail because no bite?

TexLawyer :

If you think she's going to follow through, threaten with tortuous interference with a bus relationship. If you don't, then ignore her.

TexLawyer :

Either way, I'd offer her something, even if it is just refunding the $65.

Customer:

we did that....she wants it all....basically she wants me to pay for her second exam, glasses and contacts.....

Customer:

This is my plan then, listening to your advice:

TexLawyer :

I'd call her bluff. I'm sure she's gotten her way with threats in the past and just keeps trying to "bully" people.

TexLawyer :

Can I help you with anything else?

Customer:

Have my manager call and offer her the $65.00 refund (which I have never done in 20yrs) If she refuses and continues with threats, write a rebuttal letter with tort threat....sound ok?

TexLawyer :

Yes, that is a good plan. I think she'll take the $65 and be on her way. She doesn't get anything about publicly denigrating you and your practice.

TexLawyer :

She doesn't get anything *by* publicly denigrating you and your practice.

Customer:

thank you, XXXXX XXXXX been very helpful, good night

TexLawyer :

Glad to help.

TexLawyer :

If I've answered your questions, please click the ACCEPT button. Good luck.

Customer:

absolutely

Chris T., JD, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 3746
Experience: Experienced in both state and federal court.
Chris T., JD and 4 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you

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