After realizing what the defendants knew from the beginning - that he had absolutely no standing to sue anonymous internet commenters in Florida - Dr. Douglas Berger, who is not currently licensed to practice medicine in any US state, has withdrawn his lawsuit.
While the group are disappointed that the court system was not given a proper chance to reject Dr. Berger's SLAPP tactics, they are grateful to the Randazza Legal Firm for their counsel and hard work on the case.
The group's final legal bills are not expected to exceed $5000, and the goal of this campaign has been updated to reflect that. Any amount donated above the $5000 goal will be donated to TELL JP.
Dr. Douglas Berger of the Tokyo-based Meguro Counseling Center is suing a number of his former patients who have negatively reviewed him and his practice online.
Some of the complaints include "that he overprescribes drugs; that he 'was always distracted on the computer while with a patient'; that he ‘said sexist comments to a patient' that he told a female patient she will 'be basically worthless after [she] lost her looks'; and that he misdiagnoses, cyberbullies, and takes advantage of patients. A more complete description of the complaints against Berger may be found here.
The former patients voiced their displeasure with his services in the local expat community to make others aware that, in their opinion as a result of their interactions with him, Dr. Berger did not offer a service that was of help, and that he was best avoided altogether. In response, Dr. Berger has filed suit against them in the United States, with an aim towards revealing their identities so that he may file suit against them in Japan as well.
What Dr. Berger is doing is commonly known as a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation). They are "intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition." These sorts of lawsuits are intended to stifle the free discussion of companies and service providers such as Dr. Berger, and to remove all criticism of them and their behaviour from the public view. In short, SLAPP suits aim to scare people into silence.
Foreign residents of Japan often face difficulties accessing quality mental healthcare as a result of language barriers and an unfamiliar system, and there is a long way to go towards making such care widely accessible. Sadly, there are still individuals who work on the fringes, and prey on those who just want to get better.
A number of former patients whose accounts were named in the subpoena have retained the services of a prestigious US legal firm who are well known for their dedication to protecting the First Amendment and fighting against baseless defamation cases such as this.
As the group defends their privacy and freedom of speech, this GoFundMe is intended to provide as much financial relief possible in the event of extended litigation. These funds will first and foremost be used to pay the group’s legal fees, with any remainder to be donated in full to TELL Japan, an organization focused on improving mental health access for foreigners in Japan.
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Fox News - Florida psychiatrist suing Reddit over negative reviews about his practice
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