by Paul Alan Levy
The lawyers for Gordon Austin, the former Carrollton Georgia dentist who filed a lawsuit over the YouTube posting of a news report about his indictment for having beat his patients with a dental instrument when, insufficiently anesthetized, they cried out in pain, have now withdrawn his subpoena to identify the poster, paid $12,000 in attorney fees, and agreed to dismiss the lawsuit with prejudice. The YouTube video had been posted with under the title “Psycho Dentist – Gordon Trent Austin.”
This development followed the filing of a motion to quash the subpoena which also sought an award of attorney fees against both the dentist and the law firm representing him, the Atlanta-area firm of Coles Barton. It remains a mystery why Austin and his lawyers thought they could get away with a meritless libel suit, and considering that we warned his lawyer that a motion to quash was coming and explained why it would be granted, it is an even greater mystery why they did not get out while the getting was good. My best guess is that they never focused on the fact that section 1987.2 of California’s Code of Civil Procedure provides that, when a Doe defendant successfully moves to quash an identifying subpoena, attorney fees "shall" be awarded in favor of the Doe.
Meanwhile, the lawsuit has served to increase public attention to Austin’s history of misconduct, with particularly extensive coverage on Consumerist. Before the lawsuit was filed, the YouTube video was the only reference to Austin's legal travails that appeared among the first ten results of a Google search for his name and profession; today, that link remains among the top ten, but there are also links to two stories that mention his crimes (and his effort to suppress the video), as well as a link to the decision of the Georgia Court of Appeals reinstating his indictment.