Thursday, May 04, 2006

Legal threats won't made criticism of herbal weight loss industry go away

On or about April 10, 2006 the web sites controlled by Dr. Terry Polevoy were shut down for one day because a Toronto lawyer, acting on behalf of Canada's largest herbal weight loss programs told my ISP - that they didn't like the opinions expressed on my web site. There were no legal actions against me, but the threat of this letter scared the ISP.

Their company's lawyer then contacted the U.S. based ISP, who called in their lawyer in Philadelphia who then advised the ISP to shut me down without warning. Under the's Terms of Service they had every right to do just that. My calls to the ISP's attorney went unanswered.

All of my web sites were down for only 12 hours or so, but on May 3rd, they were terminated forever by Remember, there was nothing illegal about what was posted on that one page, and I was never served with any legal documents at any tim.

The lockout closed all of my web sites and office e-mail. Complaints were filed against both lawyers with their regulators in Ontario and in Pennsylvania for frivolous, and vexatious actions taken by them.

My patients could not access medical information on my or web sites and they could not reach me by e-mail. This interfered with my business operations and personal life as well. I have spent dozens of hours trying to right their wrongs, and I expect that this will not happen again.

This particular company must feel pretty good about the herbal weight loss business. They have expanded their operations in Canada and on the internet despite the fact that there have been some problems along the way in the herbal business in general.

So, why in the world did this company feel compelled to ask my ISP (Internet Service Provider) to close me down? The particular web page in question was first posted in 1999, wasn't updated at all until November 2005. An advertisement appeared in our Waterloo Chronicle, a weekly newspaper in southwestern Ontario. I posted the full advertisement and pointed out to readers that claims were made in the advertisement that were not true.

The owner of the company called me last November to discuss my posting of the ad and he told me in no uncertain terms that the franchisee in Waterloo was not authorized to make those claims and that he would deal with it.

The web page stayed the same until it was shut down in April for 12 hours and then again in May. In my opinion as a journalist and health professional, I feel that the freedom of speech and fair comment was not respected by the company, its lawyer, and the attorney for I have had to move all of my web sites to another ISP. All things should be up and running in a few days.

What they did was egregious and in my opinion they violated my right to make fair comment. I will reconstruct the entire web page for all to see. In the meantime, anyone who would like to comment to me privately can send me e-mail at: