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I have been threatened with a defamation law suit over

I have been threatened...

I have been threatened with a defamation law suit over online reviews I left.

Lawyer's Assistant: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state you're in?

VA

Lawyer's Assistant: Has anything been filed or reported?

No, I received a cease and desist letter dated 12/22/17 saying I have 7 days to respond and remove all the reviews and write a a letter confirming I have done so and will not post anymore. i didn't get the letter in the mail till today though and immediately did as the letter requested.

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Answered in 1 minute by:
1/2/2018
RobertJDFL
RobertJDFL, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 14,349
Experience: Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
Verified

Thank you for using Just Answer. I look forward to assisting you. What specifically would you like to know? Are you asking if you are still at risk? Was anything you said in your online reviews false?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I never followed through with the complaints to the medical board. Everything I said was true to my knowledge and a matter of my opinion and point of view. I am terrified they will file suit against me and am ignorant in the matter. I do not under stand how I can be sued but worried mainly because the attorney recommended the client file suit against us in his letter. I dont know if this was a scare tactic to get the reviews taken down or if they really even have a case against me.
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
These are the reviews
I left a since have taken down1★on Google, Dec 03, 2017
Brent Hockman
Given a $450 cam walker boot for a suspected sprain in the foot. They did not tell me the cost, I should have known better and asked. This same boot can be found online, same brand same everything for $229. This practice is unethical and greedy. The receptionist/office manager was extremely rude, not receptive and unwilling to help and actually hung up on me because she obviously doesn't have the skills to deal with such a situation. No bedside manner. I only hope they don't take advantage of elderly in this manner. The practice can mark up their equipment to whatever they want, but that does not make it right and speaks volumes for their ethics. This incident has been reported to my insurance company who is filing a formal complaint and investigation. I am also reporting this to the state medical board, NHCAA and any other agencies that I am alerted of. ETHICS matter. If you go here ASK the cost of ANYTHING before you walk at the door. They are predators. Go to Winchester Bone & Joint- they review costs prior to sending you out the door! « less1★on Google, Dec 03, 2017
Leah Hockman
Sent me out of the office with $400 boot for my daughter and didn’t even tell me the cost. She was unable to even wear the boot as it chaffed so bad and this was all over a sprained foot. $400 boot- won’t take it back and both receptionists hung up on me. Don’t go here, they will charge you as much money as they can.. absolutely disgusted a place for healing would pull something like this. « lessBrent Hockman
Given a $450 cam walker boot for a suspected sprain in the foot. They did not tell me the cost, I should have known better and asked. This same boot can be found online, same brand same everything for $229 at the top of the market. This practice is unethical and greedy. The receptionist/office manager was extremely rude, not receptive and unwilling to help and actually hung up. No bedside manner. The boot was returned and caused blisters and chaffing. I only hope they don't take advantage of elderly in this manner. The practice can mark up their equipment to whatever they want, but that does not make it right and speaks volumes for their ethics. This incident has been reported to my insurance company who is filing a formal complaint and investigation. I am also reporting this to the state medical board, NHCAA and any other agencies that I am alerted of. ETHICS matter. If you go here ASK the cost of ANYTHING before you walk out the door. They are medical billing predators. Go to Winchester Bone & Joint where they review costs prior to sending you out the door! « less

Please give me a few minutes to review what your wrote and type out a response. Thank you.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
letter i faxed tonight
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
here is the letter I received from the attorney

Thank you for that additional information.

I do believe that this was a scare tactic by the lawyer. Under Virginia law, the necessary elements of the tort of defamation (which includes both libel and slander) are expressed as (1) a publication about the plaintiff, (2) of an actionable statement, (3) with the requisite intent. This sounds simple enough, but proper application of these principles is far more complicated than one would expect. This is, in part, due to the fact that the test is circular, as it begs the question of what an “actionable statement” is. It is more useful to think of Virginia law of defamation as encompassing the following eight elements: (1) a factual assertion (as opposed to an expression of opinion); (2) that is false; (3) and defamatory in nature; (4) that is about the plaintiff; (5) and made to a third party; (6) in a setting or context that isn’t privileged; (7) with the requisite degree of fault; (8) that causes actual or presumed damages (generally consisting of financial loss, loss of standing in the community, and/or emotional distress).

From what I can tell, the statements you made are truthful. If the boot cost you $400+, and is available online for less money, that is not defamatory. Truth is always a defense to defamation. Furthermore, opinion statements aren't necessarily defamatory. For example if I say about my doctor in a public forum "He has no bedside manner and rushes time with his patients", while that is opinion, is is not a false statement. Now, if I said something like "Doctor Jones acts like he's on drugs with the way he handles his practice" - while that is opinion - it could lead people to think that he uses drugs, and if that was not true, it could be considered defamatory.

Therefore, I think the medical office and these doctors just didn't want the negative reviews. But sites like Google and Yelp exist so people can express honest opinions. Regardless, it is a moot point, as you took the statements down. I don't believe they ever intended to sue you or would have a strong case if they tried, and as such, will be happy with you having taken down the reviews.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you this makes me feel better. I am still fearful and wondering if you think I should find a defense attorney in Virginia or only if they actually file suit... ?

At this point, I don't think you need one, and there's really nothing a lawyer could do for you -you've already taken down all of the postings and have indicated your intent to cooperate fully.

If you were to be sued (which I think is unlikely) then you would want a lawyer to respond for you, definitely, but right now I see no need.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I have severe anxiety, PTSD and bipolar 2, unfortunately this will make me ill until know there is nothing to worry about. Am I able to request something from Pond Law Group stating the matter is settled?
LegalKnowledge
LegalKnowledge, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 30,036
Experience: 10+ years handling Legal, Real Estate, Criminal Law, Family Law, Traffic matters.
Verified

Good evening. I see your previous expert was opted out? Do you still need information and do you have any additional questions?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
can you see all the above information and the two PDF files I uploaded?

What is your question in relation to that? I see your previous expert provided answers, so I am curious what else I can answer.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I am wondering why their attorney would advise them to take suit and if my comment calling the practice medical billing predators and unethical would be considered libelous? I also don't understand what is considered slander in my reviews
, and if I can request something stating the matter is closed so it's no lingering over my head, I have PTSD, severe anxiety disorder and bipolar so knowing something like this is lingering is causing me severe illness and I don't know how I should proceed. I feel I should be protected under the first amendment.. and am not sure where Virginia stands with anti SLAPP

Yes, you could. If you have complied with their demand, you can respond and ask them to verify that this has been removed and to provide a response in writing, that their client will no longer take any action.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
but do they have to comply? if not what is the satute of limitations on a defamation/slander/libel law suit? have I actually possibly committed a crime or would it be civil litigation?
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Would I have grounds to counter sue on the threat and them extorting my freedom of speech/opinion?

No, they do not have to comply. You removed it and that should satisfy them. In VA, there is a one year statute of limitations as well:

§ 8.01-247.1. Limitation on action for defamation, etc.

Every action for injury resulting from libel, slander, insulting words, or defamation shall be brought within one year after the cause of action accrues.

If a publisher of statements actionable under this section publishes anonymously or under a false identity on the Internet, an action may be filed under this section and the statute of limitations shall be tolled until the identity of the publisher is discovered or, by the exercise of due diligence, reasonably should have been discovered.

As far as a crime, this is civil and not criminal and you can stand firm and leave the reviews up, if you wanted to

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
but I would open myself up to a law suit as they said in the letter for punitive damages.... but it is highly unlikely they would proceed and it would be very expensive for them upfront and I would only pay if determined guilty? (last question)

Yes, that is correct. They got what they wanted. You removed the posts and that would end it. It would take a lot of time, effort and costs and if you defended this, they may have to turn over a lot of information and records, which could expose them, which they would want to avoid if they know they may be doing something wrong or unethical. You are welcome. Please let me know if there is anything else, as I would be happy to respond. If not, please remember to rate my help at this time at the top of this page, prior to leaving, so I can receive the proper credit, for our time together. A 5 STAR rating is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

LegalKnowledge
LegalKnowledge, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 30,036
Experience: 10+ years handling Legal, Real Estate, Criminal Law, Family Law, Traffic matters.
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
thank you very much. hopefully I will be able to speak to their attorney tomorrow and get this resolved, have a great night

You are welcome

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