Google review of Sydney plastic surgeon leads to $500,000 payout

A Google reviewer has been ordered to pay more than $500,000 to a Sydney plastic surgeon for defaming him with "plainly untrue" allegations.

Cynthia Imisides claimed Double Bay plastic surgeon, Kourosh Tavakoli, charged her for a cheek reduction procedure she'd never received and painted him as acting improperly and incompetently in a review posted online in September 2017.

"Those allegations have been shown to be plainly untrue," NSW Supreme Court Justice Stephen Rothman said on Monday.

Justice Rothman said the woman knew the statements were untrue but set out to harm the 25-year industry veteran.

Dr Tavakoli bills himself as "the household name for elite plastic surgery in Australia" and posts before and after pictures of his "mummy makeovers" to his 156,000 Instagram followers.

His surgery currently has a 4.8-star rating on Google.

Ms Imisides had already received a nosejob when Dr Tavakoli operated on her nose and cheeks in February 2017.

She subsequently failed to attend all but one follow-up appointment before telling her ex-husband she'd been charged for an unperformed cheek reduction and posting her defamatory review.

Sydney plastic surgeon Dr Kourosh Tavakoli in scrubs (left) and at his desk.
Sydney plastic surgeon Dr Kourosh Tavakoli bills himself as "the household name for elite plastic surgery in Australia". Source: Instagram

The operator of Dr Tavakoli's website testified that traffic to the surgery website dropped almost 25 per cent in the week after the woman's review.

Ms Imisides left the review up for three weeks, refused to apologise and threw out court documents served to her, Justice Rothman said.

She also failed to file a defence to the defamation proceedings and, a week before trial in November 2018, posted a second, untrue Google review in contravention of court orders.

That review stated she was "extremely unhappy" with her nose job and alleged the surgeon had no morals.

When told by Mr Tavakoli's lawyers to take it down, she told them to "piss off" and "I don't have any money to give you greedy people".

The judge said the allegations were "extremely serious", went to the heart of Dr Tavakoli's exemplary reputation and caused "more than significant" hurt to his feelings.

The surgeon had told the court he'd become extremely distressed and embarrassed by the review and its publication, and said it had a significant effect on his marriage and family.

The judge ordered Ms Imisides to pay damages of $530,000 and all the surgeon's legal fees. Both orders include interest.

She was also forbidden from posting a similar Google review about the surgeon or creating a website about him.

Dr Tavakoli did not seek compensation for loss of income or earning capacity.

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