Court orders Google to pay Dr Janice Duffy $100,000 plus interest for not removing her from Google Search
An Australian woman has been awarded $100,000 in damages, plus interest after she successfully won the defamation case filed against Google.
Janice Duffy, 59, a former SA health department researcher took the internet search giant to court after claiming articles published on the “Ripoff Report” website from 2007 defamed her. The site is a “shaming platform” that allows anyone to post reports about people whom they suspect are behaving in a criminal or dishonest manner, regardless of its factual accuracy.
Despite bringing the articles to their attention, Google denied her request to remove the webpages from its search engine inspite of telling them that her prospective employers could chance upon the material.
Finally, in 2011, she launched a civil lawsuit against Google in the South Australian Supreme Court, as for two years, it refused her written requests to take action on her behalf.
The court heard Google progressively removed the display of extracts from and links to the “Ripoff Report” from its Australian website.
Dr Duffy also claimed the auto-complete search terms suggested by Google were harmful, due to them directing users to the “Ripoff Report” site.
Google fought the case, arguing defences of innocent dissemination, qualified privilege, justification and contextual truth.
In his judgment in October, Justice Malcolm Blue struck out several of the defences.
He found the search results either published, republished or directed users towards comments harmful to her reputation.
On Wednesday, Justice Blue awarded Dr Duffy damages of $100,000 and a $15,000 lump sum to cover interest.
Dr Duffy’s lawyer, Paul Heywood-Smith, has also asked the Supreme Court to make an order for costs to cover the legal fees his client has paid during the lengthy battle.
The court has reserved its decision on costs.
Counsel for Google has asked payment of those amounts to be stayed until January, pending argument on court costs and a possible appeal.
‘I stood up to them and for that I’m pleased’
Dr Duffy has tweeted that if Google was to launch any appeal, she would respond with a “cross appeal”.
Outside court, she described Wednesday’s ruling as “vindication”.
“It’s been a long battle and it’s not over,” she said.
“After the trial I couldn’t get off the couch for three weeks … but it’s something that has to be done.
“I think that they thought that they could make me go away. I’m stubborn.
“I stood up to them and for that I’m pleased. I beat the bastards.”
Earlier this year, Dr Duffy represented herself during the trial, after initially being represented by lawyers.
Since the trial she has again hired legal representation.
The ruling comes after Google was ordered by the European Court of Justice to introduce the “right to be forgotten”, which means old, inaccurate or irrelevant data must be omitted from search results if a person involved requests it.