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Lawsuit of the Week: B.C. lawyer wants reviews wiped from Google

Lawyer alleges reviews are defamatory
The B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver | Rob Kruyt, BIV

Burnaby lawyer Donald J. Renaud is seeking to obtain a court order against a group of seven unknown individuals for what he claims are defamatory reviews they left on Google.

Renaud, principal of the law firm Renaud Law Group, filed a lawsuit against John Does No. 1-7 on Feb. 6, seeking damages from the defendants and an injunction requiring the defendants to remove their reviews permanently and to bar them from making any similar claims.

In his lawsuit, Renaud noted that he has “provided legal services through the firm to residents of British Columbia, and in particular to infants who suffered catastrophic injury as a result of medical negligence.”

Between 2021 and 2023, Renaud claims, the defendants “falsely and maliciously published defamatory words … of and concerning the plaintiffs on the firm’s business profile, through their respective Google accounts.”

According to the notice of civil claim filed by Renaud, the reviews characterized Renaud and the firm as unprofessional, incompetent and unethical; or immoral, greedy and selfish, and made claims that the plaintiffs deceived clients, failed to adhere to their obligations under the Law Society of B.C., encouraged clients to commit fraud and fabricated positive Google reviews.

The reviews cited by Renaud, all with one out of five star ratings, often only include a Google account username and range from large paragraphs describing claims of long waits for unsatisfactory settlements to short sentences describing the character of the law firm and Renaud to a one-star rating with no description.

The court filing includes one review left in 2021, two in August 2022, another two in September 2022 and two left in January 2023.

“The defamatory words published by each of the defendants, and the innuendo arising from them, are false and were maliciously published by the defendants knowing that they were false, or with careless disregard as to whether they were true or not,” read Renaud’s court filings, which add Google has refused to remove the reviews.

Renaud noted that he and his firm “did not provide legal services to any of the defendants, nor did the plaintiffs have any professional dealings with any of them. The plaintiffs do not recognize any of the Google accounts owned and/or operated by the defendants and have no reasonable means of contacting them.”