Right to Anonymous Criticism of Plastic Surgeon, Rajagopal v. Does

Gena Rajagopal is a California plastic surgeon.  According to a complaint by the California Medical Board, Rajagopal was grossly negligent with regard to a number of anesthesia procedures, leading to a patient’s falling into a permanent vegetative state.  In a settlement with the Medical Board, Rajagopal agreed that a factual basis for these allegations could be shown.  In September 2010, the magazine SF Weekly published an article about doctors who hire consultants to boost their web images by planting fake good reviews on various sites.  Rajagopal featured prominently in the article.  The article also describes at length the Medical Board allegations against Rajagopal and notes that the patient has since died.  Following publication of the article, a number of people posted anonymous reviews of Rajagopal on the Google Maps site, referring to the SF Weekly article and reiterating the allegations therein.  Rajagopal has now filed suit against these commenters in Henrico County Circuit Court. Rajagopal has subpoenaed Google to discover the names of the Does.  On March 7, 2011, we filed a motion to quash the subpoena to Google, arguing that the First Amendment requires that a plaintiff be able to establish a factual basis for her claims before obtaining the identity of anonymous internet speakers, and that Rajagopal cannot do so.  The plaintiff subsequently withdrew the subpoena directed against our client.

Court Documents (click link to view .pdf)
Motion to Quash and for Sanctions-- Henrico County Circuit Court

Attorney(s)

Rebecca Glenberg, ACLU of Virginia; Michael Page, Paul Levy, Public Citizen

Date filed

March 7, 2011

Court

Henrico County Circuit Court

Status

Closed

Stay informed

ACLU of Virginia is part of a network of affiliates

Learn more about ACLU National