A few days ago I wrote here about a lawsuit and consent order that were filed in Baltimore, Maryland, determining that a series of criticisms posted against Georgia dentist Mitul Patel by Matthew Chan, one of his patients in Georgia, were false and defamatory, and commanding their removal from the web and from search engine listings.
Over the weekend I got a call from Patel’s lawyer insisting on a retraction of that blog post; he followed up with a demand letter. Patel’s counsel, a lawyer whose blog suggests that he specializes in representing dentists, admits that the lawsuit was a fraudulent proceeding, while insisting that it was his client that is the main victim of the fraud, because Patel never authorized the lawsuit, had nothing to do with it, did not even know about the suit until I published my blog article, and yet has had his reputation affected by the fact that Patel’s name is on the complaint as plaintiff. Patel’s lawyer promises that his client intends to seek damages from the person or company that filed the proceeding, as well as pursuing the possibility that the filing was a crime.
Patel's lawyer demanded that I publish his demand letter here, which I am happy to do, and I share the desire to identify the miscreant that filed this lawsuit. But I find some of Patel’s claims of innocence to be suspect. My response to Patel’s demand letter identifies multiple reasons to question the veracity of Patel's claim that he knew nothing about the lawsuit before I published my article on Friday. Most important, Yelp received emails from one of Patel’s confirmed email addresses, seeking to take advantage of the existence of the consent order to get Chan’s review taken down. Unless the email address was spoofed, this certainly suggests that even if Patel was not involved in obtaining the fraudulent order, he had no compunction about taking advantage of that order. I will be waiting to hear from Patel’s counsel whether Patel disavows these emails and claims that his email address was spoofed.
My letter raises the possibility that perhaps Patel retained a reputation management outfit to perform SEO miracles on Patel’s behalf, and that such a company might have perpetrated this fraud in pursuit of that assignment, while giving Patel deniability by not burdening him with knowledge of the sordid details. In a subsequent conversation, Patel’s lawyer admitted to me that Patel did hire such a company, but he refused to identify it, saying that he needed to pursue further investigation about who it is that is responsible for the fraudulent Maryland filings.