Patient challenges dentist's $4M suit against her for bad reviews

2019 10 29 22 10 8334 Review Button 400

A woman wants an Illinois court to dismiss a multimillion-dollar lawsuit that a dentist filed against her, claiming she wrote hundreds of negative online reviews and made false statements that have destroyed his reputation, according to court records.

Mary Katherine Alberti, of Des Plaines, IL, has asked a judge to dismiss the lawsuit filed by Robert Goldberg, DDS, the owner of Advanced Care in Endodontics in Buffalo Grove. Alberti claims that Dr. Goldberg's lawsuit is an attempt to quash her constitutional right to protected speech by assigning hostile intent to her comments.

Dr. Goldberg, an endodontist, has until November 20 to reply to her motion to dismiss, according to the electronic court filing system.

The suit describes Alberti as a former patient and an unemployed former marketing executive who is trained to conduct media campaigns to sway public opinion. Dr. Goldberg claims that Alberti has misused her marketing training to engage in a strategic "internet smear campaign" to destroy his good name, reputation, and those of colleagues he has referred her to for other dental treatments, in a suit filed in May in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Where the trouble started

In April, Alberti began making comments to patients and posted numerous statements about Dr. Goldberg, claiming he engaged in criminal misconduct and illegal, unethical, and incompetent dental practices, the suit states.

The complaint alleges that Alberti's reviews started following a root canal that went awry, and she allegedly posted new reviews repeatedly as old ones were deleted. The dentist claims that her reviews can be identified because she often made the same or a similarly worded post under an introductory line reading "ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT GOLD ... BERG," the dentist claims.

Dr. Goldberg claims Alberti falsely accused him of recommending unnecessary treatments so he could collect additional fees, refused to provide her with x-rays and medical records, and physically threatened her.

The suit alleges Alberti impersonated other patients, including her own aunt and uncle who are satisfied patients of Dr. Goldberg's, so that she could fill the internet with allegedly fake negative patient reviews "at all hours of the day and night," the complaint states.

Also, Dr. Goldberg claims she made "frankly bizarre" yet false and equally damaging attacks on him and his "cabal" of clinicians with whom he is associated. In the suit, he claims Alberti accused him of hiring investigators who broke into her home and personal computer, disrespecting an honored military veteran's memory, and having cameras all over his office. She claims she learned about cameras from his employees.

The dentist alleges she secretly tape-recorded one or more telephone conversations with him without his permission, which violates state law.

Furthermore, Alberti used her allegedly defamatory statements to instigate government investigations of Dr. Goldberg to further destroy him, he claims. She repeated all or some of the defamatory statements alleged in the suit to Illinois state Sen. Laura Murphy, and, according to Murphy, to Illinois state Rep. Emanuel Welch of the 7th District and investigators at the state's department of human services. Dr. Goldberg claims she made these statements to lawmakers to "cause him stress and humiliation," the suit states.

Dr. Goldberg denies her accusations and claims that he deserves punitive damages, funds awarded to punish egregious acts and deter others from engaging in the same behaviors in the future. He claims Alberti "willfully, repeatedly, and with actual malice" made false statements as part of a campaign to destroy his reputation, causing him irreparable harm, according to the suit.

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