A Kelowna blogger who was unhappy after a breast augmentation surgery has been ordered to pay $30,000 after her “reviews” were found to be defamatory.
Rosa Campagna Deck was ordered to pay surgeon Dr. Brian Peterson in damages, after posting a series of defamatory comments on her website and Google Reviews. She was also ordered to remove the posts and must not re-post them on any media.
“While internet postings in the nature of ‘reviews’ of restaurants and services are the norm in today’s world, defamatory comments dressed up as “reviews” that are not factual or do not qualify as fair comment are subject to the laws of defamation,” wrote Justice Gary Weatherill in a decision posted on Aug. 25.
“In my view, a reasonable person knowing the proven background facts, could not honestly express the opinions set out in the Posts. Moreover, the Posts contain defamatory statements of fact that cannot be justified. The plaintiff is thus liable for her libel,” he continued.
The order concludes a long battle between Deck and Peterson over the social media posts, which occurred after Peterson performed breast augmentation surgery on Deck on Nov. 3, 2015.
Deck wanted to get the surgery in August that year. Part of his first-visit protocol included a physical examination, where he noted that the front of her chest is concave rather than convex. This resulted in asymmetry between the left and right sides, and Peterson suggested using implants of different sizes to compensate for the deformity. However, Deck wanted same-size implants despite his recommendations, and he did not discuss the matter further.
Deck was unhappy after the first surgery on Nov. 3, 2015. Peterson began receiving numerous calls, text messages and a breast photograph from her after a few days. She was concerned that her left breast was higher than the right breast and that the lower half of the left breast was bruised.
In two follow-up appointments, Peterson said that the concave chest presented some complications but concluded that the left breast implant will eventually drop into position. She was asked to return in three months, but she was still dissatisfied with the results. He provided a solution to her concerns, which he was confident would work and would perform at no cost to her. Peterson also arranged for her to see another surgeon in his office, Dr. Valnicek, who provided similar solutions.
In the end, Deck opted to have Valnicek perform a second surgery despite having to replace both implants with asymmetrical ones. Deck was upset that Peterson would not pay the cost of the second surgery, saying that it was necessitated by mistakes made in the first surgery. Peterson maintained that he would pay for the solution he first proposed, but he would not pay for new asymmetrical implants because she had rejected the advice that he gave before the first surgery.
Deck was happy with the results of the second surgery, according to court documents. But in November 2018, she posted negative reviews against Peterson’s practice on her website and Google reviews. She said her experience with Peterson was an “anxiety-filled nightmare” and Peterson did not mention the “complexity” of her chest.
Peterson thought the “reviews” were defamatory and asked for them to be removed. Deck refused, and Peterson filed to seek damages for defamation on March 19, 2019. Deck filed a counterclaim for professional negligence, stating her reviews reflected her personal opinion and were fair comments about a matter of public interest.