TECH DIRT: “Court Says Complaining About Doctor’s Bedside Manner Is Not Defamation”

MAY 10, 2011

“Court Says Complaining About Doctor’s Bedside Manner Is Not Defamation”

Mike Masnick, TECH DIRT

We keep hearing stories about doctors suing patients [ 1 ] for bad reviews. However, there’s some good news, in that a recent court ruling was pretty clear that complaining about your doctor is not defamation. In this case, it wasn’t even just complaining via online reviews, but the son of the patient filed complaints about the doctor’s treatment and bedside manner with “the American Academy of Neurology, the American Neurological Association, two physicians in Duluth, the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee and St. Luke’s hospital, among others.” In other words, the son was not happy with Dr. David McKee and made that widely known.

The court clearly saw someone who was upset and emotional, and saw no defamatory intent: In his 18-page order dismissing the suit, Sixth Judicial District Judge Eric Hylden wrote that looking at Laurion’s “statements as a whole, the court does not find defamatory meaning, but rather a sometimes emotional discussion of the issues.”

As for the public online reviews that the son filed also? Perfectly reasonable: “In modern society, there needs to be some give and take, some ability for parties to air their differences,” the judge wrote. “Today, those disagreements may take place on various Internet sources. Because the medium has changed, however, does not make statements of this sort any more or less defamatory.”

It’s really nice to see some judges recognize this simple point. I doubt we’ll see any slowdown of such lawsuits any time soon, but any case law that comes out reasonably seems like a good thing.

FOOT NOTE [ 1 ]

SOURCE

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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