TOKYO (TR) – Users of the popular internet site Reddit have retained legal counsel over a defamation suit lodged in the U.S. last year by an American psychiatrist practicing in Meguro Ward.
The suit, filed in Palm Beach County, Florida on December 22, claims that a number of users made “false and defamatory statements” on the site against plaintiffs Dr. Douglas Berger and the Tokyo Meguro Counseling Center, for which Berger serves as director.
Described collectively as “John Doe” in the complaint, the Reddit users are claimed to have made the alleged defamatory statements in seven discussions posted under the Japan, Japanlife and Tokyo categories in 2016 and 2017.
Among the statements are that Dr. Berger is a “fucking maniac” and “piece of shit.” Users also indicated that he “gives patients the creeps” and “is not a medical professional.” Yet others claimed that he overcharges, misdiagnoses and “scams” patients. “A scam artist with a doctorate” is how one user described him.
According to the web site of the Tokyo Meguro Counseling Center, Dr. Berger is certified as a psychiatrist with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. He also received a Ph.D. from the University of Tokyo School of Medicine following the completion of psychiatric research at the Tokyo University Department of Psychosomatic Medicine.
The plaintiffs claim the comments, which were posted after agreeing to Reddit’s terms and conditions, have had a negative impact on their business. They are seeking damages exceeding 15,000 U.S. dollars.
“As a direct and proximate result of the Statements, Plaintiffs have suffered significant reputational harm and sustained actual damages including, but not limited to, loss of capital and revenue, lost productivity, loss of countless employment opportunities, expenses incurred, and loss of intangible assets in an amount,” the complaint read.
In response to the complaint, the Reddit users have started a GoFundMe page to raise funds to cover legal fees. They have also retained the services of a legal professional, a source has confirmed to The Tokyo Reporter.
In addition to monetary compensation, the plaintiffs are requesting that statements deemed defamatory stop being posted. The defendants are also requested to remove the alleged defamatory discussions from the internet, including search engines Google, Yahoo! and Bing.
Reddit is named as a nominal defendant with no legal liability in the suit. However, it is being asked to remove the discussions from its site.
The plaintiffs are also seeking the real names of the Defendants. “Defendant’s true identity and address will be determined through discovery,” the complaint read. “When Defendant’s address is discovered, Plaintiffs will amend this Complaint and/or serve Defendant.”