Judge rules Pennsylvania dental group can't force patient to remove online comments

A Westmoreland County judge ruled against a request from Three Rivers Dental to have a patient's comments removed from social media websites, according to TribLIVE.com.

Common Pleas Judge Chris Scherer said that removing the comments would go against the patient's right to free speech.

"Although this court's finding is based solely on the facts presented before it and does not necessarily apply to any other postings or statements made in online postings, the grant of a preliminary injunction could adversely affect the public by putting a deterring effect on someone who intended to exercise their First Amendment rights by posting a negative review but hesitated because a fear of potential lawsuits," Mr. Scherer wrote in an opinion issued June 28.

The Greensburg, Pa.-based dental group filed a lawsuit in June against a former patient. Three Rivers Dental claimed the patient made defamatory and libelous claims online alleging investigations and fraudulent business practices.

The judge ruled that Three Rivers Dental did not show evidence that the social media posts would have negative impacts on its business.

Three Rivers Dental claims the comments made by the patient are not true, saying there are no investigations that are ongoing because of the dental group's conduct.

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