Minnesota High Court Dumps Neurologist Libel Suit

FEBRUARY 1, 2013

“Minnesota High Court Dumps Doctor’s ‘Tool’ Libel Claim”

Sheldon Toplitt, The Unruly of Law

In his 13-page decision this week in David McKee, M.D. v. Dennis K. Laurion (Docket No. A11-1154), Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page reversed a court of appeals ruling and sided with the trial court that originally dismissed a neurologist’s defamation claim against the son of a stroke patient he treated who had posted negative remarks about the plaintiff on a rate-your-physician Web site.

The Minnesota High Court heard oral arguments four months ago in the case brought by Dr. McKee of Northland Neurology & Myology in Duluth against the son of a 85-year-old stroke patient he treated concerning a half-dozen allegedly actionable statements reflecting the son’s dissatisfaction with the medical care provided and his belief that Dr. McKee was rude and insensitive.

The lightning rod among the allegedly offensive statements was a post by the defendant that said: “When I mentioned Dr. McKee’s name to a friend who is a nurse, she said, ‘Dr. McKee is a real tool!'”  “Referring to someone as ‘a real tool’ falls into the category of pure opinion,” Justice Page wrote, “because the term ‘real tool’ cannot be reasonably interpreted as stating a fact and it cannot be proven true or false.” Characterizing the remark as “rhetorical hyperbole” and “mere vituperation or abuse,” Justice Page said it could not support a defamation action as a matter of law

The devoted “TUOL” staff supports the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision and the principle that pure opinion is not susceptible to a defamatory meaning, but questions whether bringing a lawsuit such as the one at issue in the first place is sufficient proof of “tooldom” in and of itself.

Sheldon Toplitt is an attorney and a writer/editor who teaches media law and journalism at Boston University and Emerson College.

FULL ARTICLE

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Web Posting

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Patient Complaint

Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply To Patient Complaint

Plaintiff David McKee’s Cease And Desist Letter To Defendant Dennis Laurion

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Complaint To Minnesota Board Of Medical Practice

Plaintiff David McKee’s Complaint To Sixth Judicial District Duluth Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Response To Minnesota Board Of Medical Practice

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Answer To Plaintiff David McKee’s Complaint

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Motion For Summary Judgment

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Deposition Extracts

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Circumstances Before Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony About Circumstances After Encounter With Laurion Family

Plaintiff David McKee’s Deposition Testimony In Response To Questions By Marshall Tanick

Affidavits By Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Parents

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Supplemental Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Motion To Oppose Summary Judgment

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Reply Memo In Support Of Motion For Summary Judgment

Sixth Judicial District Court’s Order On Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Appeal Of Order On Motion For Summary Judgment

Plaintiff David McKee’s Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply Brief To Minnesota Court Of Appeals

Minnesota Court Of Appeals Order To Strike Portion Of Plaintiff David McKee’s Reply Brief

Minnesota Court Of Appeals Announces Decision

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Petition For Review By Minnesota Supreme Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Opposition To Review By Minnesota Supreme Court

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Plaintiff David McKee’s Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Defendant Dennis Laurion’s Reply Brief To Minnesota Supreme Court

Minnesota Supreme Court Decision On David McKee MD V. Dennis K. Laurion

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2010

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2011

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2012

David McKee MD v. Dennis Laurion 2013

McKee V Laurion Is A Textbook Case

 

 

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