Sydney Plastic Surgeon’s $80k Defamation Win Sparks Hope For Other Surgeons

Well-known Sydney Plastic Surgeon, Dr Kourosh Tavakoli, will come away with a settlement of $80,000 after the conclusion of a defamation case this week. Perth-based industrial chemist Mark Imisides made a number of phone calls and emails to Dr Tavakoli’s office mid-2017 alleging that the Double Bay surgeon had charged Imisides’ wife for a buccal fat removal procedure on her cheeks that he did not deliver.

Imisides’ ex-wife paid for a number of procedures on her cheeks and nose totalling $35,000 in February last year, the results of which she was unhappy with. In August, according to court documents, Imisides emailed Dr Tavakoli saying that unless $10,000 was repaid to him, he would establish a warning website and approach ‘Today Tonight’ producers to discuss a news story on a ‘dodgy doctor’.

Another email was sent to Tavakoli’s clinic in July, which allegedly stated the surgeon was a fraud that needed to repay him. Imisides’ ex-wife also posted two negative Google reviews regarding her procedure, claiming her nose was worse than before the surgery and that it has left her haunted. Dr Tavakoli took legal action against the pair, claiming he would be branded as a ‘fraudster’ and thereby irreparably damaging his reputation as a surgeon.

Dr Tavakoli’s lawyer claimed in court when the case opened on Tuesday that it was ‘absurd’ to suggest not all of the procedures were completed, and that Dr Tavakoli even provided Imisides with a time lapse video showing the procedures being carried out.

Several hours in, the parties agreed to a settlement, with Dr Tavakoli awarded $80,000 in damages, and a permanent injunction ordered against Imisides preventing him from publishing allegations about Dr Tavakoli. Representing himself in court, Imisides read out an apology: “I wish to apologise unreservedly in open court for the embarrassment, pain and suffering I have caused to the plaintiff and his staff.” Imisides’ ex-wife didn’t appear in court, and had been referred to the registrar for contempt over her second Google review, which also breached an injunction already taken out against her.

Dr Tavakoli’s defamation case is just one example of surgeons being verbally abused and threatened by patients. Silkwood Medical’s Director and Plastic Surgeon Dr Warwick Nettle posted an open letter on his Facebook page earlier this year, addressing a patient that had seen him for a consultation and went on to post negative reviews about him using several fake google accounts. Despite the fact Dr Nettle never operated on her, the patient single-handedly brought down Dr Nettle perfect’s 5-star ratings across google and other review sites, and also threatened and blackmailed the surgeon in several e-mails.

In an open letter, Dr Nettle’s team said:

“Pretending to be multiple people, online abuse, fake reviews, and trying to cause intentional reputational damage – All of this because Dr Nettle refused to perform surgery on you? It was in the best interests of your mental health. We realise you can’t see that. In your mind, you are feeling justified by your actions, as your bizarre emails confirm. Please seek out help before you have ruined your future, and before you have destroyed a humble, hard working man’s zest for his profession. Please stop your online warfare and abuse of us (and multiple other surgeons, both here and in the USA).”

Dr Nettle has since had a two-year AVO ordered against the offender.

These cases stress the importance of screening your patients and making sure they are mentally fit for any procedure. It also highlights that online bullying is a real problem in the aesthetics industry, and that it can have detrimental consequences if not dealt with appropriately.

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