July 25, 2024


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Only one star: Google should compensate the pediatrician

Only one star: Google should compensate the pediatrician

An anonymous review described the doctor as “humanly miserable” for no reason. Google did not disclose the users and must now compensate the woman itself, the Vienna Higher Regional Court ruled.

“Unfortunately, I have to give one star, none of it worked.” This is how one “Peter 2016” gave his review of the pediatrician in Wiener Neustadt Monika Peter in her company’s Google profile. What followed was a bad criticism of the doctor; But it responded by legal means.

With great success: Since Google neither deleted the review nor revealed its author, the world’s largest search engine should bear responsibility for the insult inflicted upon it. For the first time, the Higher Regional Court of Vienna (OLG) has decided in a ruling that Google is the media owner of this company profile, which also appears as a “Point of Interest” on Google Search and Google Maps. Therefore, he can be held liable under the Media Law.

“The date has been cancelled!!!!”

What happened that “Peter 2016” became offensive and wrote: “Unfortunately I cannot judge medical competence (according to other assessments it should be very good), but about human competence I can only say: miserable!!!”? The anonymous user describes how he tried in vain to take his sick son to the doctor. The boy was suffering from severe pain, even after taking painkillers. He was offered an appointment over the phone an hour later, “great and great.” BUT! “NOW COMES”: When it became clear that the son would be coming into the office for the first time, the father was told: “He is not our patient, the appointment has been cancelled!!!!”

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According to the findings of the Regional Court in Wr. However, things happened very differently in Neustadt. It was possible to reconstruct the identity of the caller on that day (apparently without documenting the name). And communication was much different: the patient pool was already exhausted, and the son was no longer able to get an appointment. He should visit his pediatrician (retired as per Peter 2016 review) or hospital. When the father called back a little later to say he wouldn’t be able to get an appointment with his pediatrician for two more days, Dr. Peter’s ordination assistant told him he had to go to the hospital. As the court was able to convince itself, the doctor’s staff were instructed to proceed in this way, regardless of whether the patient had been to the clinic previously or not.

Google did not provide the email address or delete the entry

The doctor repeatedly asked Google to delete the review for “Peter 2016” or at least reveal the email address of the user behind it. Because Google Ireland Limited did not respond, it, represented by lawyer Markus Passer (Graz), was forced to take the legal action it wanted to take against the user against the company.

The Regional Court rightly recognized that the description portrayed the doctor as a very bad, and particularly miserable, character; By accusing her of behavior that does not comply with medical ethics, she is belittled in public opinion. The Higher Regional Court affirmed that in the absence of proven facts, the crime of defamation was satisfied: “Even if the user states that ‘according to other assessments, the medical competence should be very good’, describing the applicant as a miserable human being because of something is not true.” What is probable are the limits of what is acceptable taking into account the described incident at the intended appointment” (17 AD 119/23H).

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Responsible as media owner

However, the first case was wrong when it came to Google’s liability. The company has been ordered to delete the entry; As a neutral service provider (only providing a forum for communication), it is not the owner of the media and is therefore not liable under media law. “The first court erred when it awarded sole media ownership to the user ‘Peter 2016’ in its ruling,” the OLG says. It is not enough that the user can delete his comment at any time. On the other hand, the doctor is not the media owner of the company’s file, as she cannot interfere in the comments. “Contrary to the first court’s opinion, Google is also the owner of the media and not just the host provider of the Google Local Listings platform,” according to the OLG. Google now has to pay the doctor €2,000 in compensation and delete the review.

“Google is the media owner of letters to the editor: it is a milestone for all users and especially entrepreneurs!” says lawyer Baser triumphantly.