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Australian Surgeon Sues Google Over ‘bankrupt’ Auto-complete

Australian Surgeon Sues Google Over ‘bankrupt’ Auto-complete

A Port Macquarie surgeon is suing Google for defamation over an auto-complete search suggestion that he believes has cost him clients.

Google has been involved in several lawsuits around the world in the past year revolving around its autocomplete suggestions and has increasingly been held responsible for content on its search pages.

The suit, filed by Dr Guy Hingston in the US district court in California, claims that when you type “Guy Hin …” into Google the words “Guy Hingston bankrupt” appear in the auto-complete. He claims this is defamatory as he is not bankrupt.

Dr Hingston’s Australian lawyers Beazley Singleton had written to Google Australia in December threatening legal action. The firm wrote Dr Hingston had “lost a number of patients and financiers [who] are refusing to deal with our client as a consequence of the reference on Google which is associated with his name”.

The complaint, seen by Fairfax Media, claims Dr Hingston’s career as a breast surgeon depended on maintaining a good reputation which had been damaged after Google had shown him in a “false light”. He is seeking at least $75,000 in damages plus court costs for the “significant harm and economic loss” caused by the matter.

According to a Port Macquarie News report from January 2009, an aviation group owned by Dr Hingston, CoastJet, closed its doors and went into administration two-and-a-half years after he bought it. He told the paper the main reason for CoastJet’s demise — which reportedly resulted in the loss of 30 jobs — was the loss of a $2.8 million deposit on two new jets when American company Eclipse Aviation went into bankruptcy.

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