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Rajagopal v. Does

Topic(s): Internet Free Speech - Right To Speak Anonymously

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This case involves a subpoena from a San Francisco plastic surgeon to an Internent service provider for the identities of five anonymous individuals who negatively reviewed the doctor on an Internet forum. The San Francisco Weekly published a lengthy article about the doctor in which it suggested that she had hired a consultant who manufactured positive online reviews for the doctor's business. The article also explains that the doctor is on probation for allegedly putting a patient into a vegetative state due to her "gross negligence" and "unprofessional conduct." Several of the defendants referenced the article on an online forum. A couple of the defendants are former patients who shared their negative experiences. The doctor's complaint alleges that the defendants "conspired together" to "engage in a campaign of unlawfully defaming and spreading lies about [her]." Public Citizen and the Virginia ACLU filed a motion to quash the subpoena and to sanction the doctor and her attorney. The motion was resolved when plaintiff dropped his lawsuit against the anonymous defendants.