$12 Million Verdict in Internet Defamation Case

An Arizona jury has awarded two Scottsdale physicians a $12 Million verdict against a former patient they accused of defaming them on the Internet.  The Maricopa County jury awarded the money to Dr. Albert Carlotti and his wife, Dr. Michelle Cabret-Carlotti.

The verdict was against Scottsdale jazz singer Sherry Patta, who had written Internet postings accusing the physicians of wrongful conduct in performing a nose job and other cosmetic surgery on her in 2007.  The physicians persuaded the jury that the Internet postings contained false information and harmed their medical practice, leading to a drop in the number of their patients.

Libel suits over Internet postings are becoming more common.  In 2006, a woman was awarded $11.3 Million against someone who referred to her as a crook, a con artist and a fraud on the Internet.  Lawsuits have been filed over alleged libelous content posted on Facebook.  Federal laws provide some degree of immunity from lawsuits to Internet Service Providers (ISP) and computer services.

To avoid being sued for defamation, one should always exercise caution in posting on the Internet.  Making allegations of wrongdoing that are not factual supported can land you in civil court, facing a claim for money damages.  Moreover, even if the allegations are true, it can be expensive to litigate a defamation case.