Two related, freestanding emergency rooms in the Dallas area want to force Google to reveal the identities of web-site commenters who gave the ERs negative reviews on the tech behemoth’s Google Reviews site.
In a joint petition filed in Dallas County District Court, Highland Park Emergency Center LLC and Preston Hollow Emergency Room LLC say they’re seeking “to investigate potential claims for defamation, business disparagement, and tortious interference with prospective relations against individuals … who have posted false one-star reviews of Highland Park ER and Preston Hollow ER on Google Reviews.”
Matt Rinaldi, general counsel for the ERs, told D CEO Healthcare that “we recently discovered evidence that one of our competitors hired a contractor to post fake reviews for our facilities in an attempt to mislead the public. We are attempting to gather evidence regarding the source of certain reviews that may have come from this competitor to determine the extent of the issue.”
The court filing says that “if the reviewers were either a patient or guardian of a patient at Highland Park ER or Preston Hollow ER and the reviewers posted truthful reviews, then petitioners have no action to pursue. However, if the reviewers were neither patients nor guardians of a patient (which appears to be the case) and instead posted a false review on behalf of a third party to defame and disparage petitioners’ business, then petitioners have legitimate claims to pursue.”
The ERs are seeking to depose Google officials to learn the identities of 22 commenters as well as the “metadata” underlying the poor reviews. California-based Google didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.