MAY 7, 2010
[ This text is copied from Exhibits AA-395, AA-396, AA-397, AA-398, and AA-399 of the Minnesota Defamation Lawsuit of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, Filed June 9, 2010. ]
From: 5402 Juniata Street
Duluth MN 55804
To: Marshall H. Tanick
1700 U. S. Bank Plaza South
220 South 6th Street
Minneapolis MN 55402-4511
Dear Mr. Tanick,
I am in receipt of your intimidating letter of May 7, 2010, regarding David McKee, MD.
Although I intend to seek counsel, I wish to detail my previous actions relative to Dr. McKee, my past and present intentions about Doctor McKee, and my possible future action relative to Dr. McKee.
After the encounter that I describe in enclosure 1 and enclosure 2, I felt the need for Doctor McKee to know that he treated my father rudely. I felt then and feel now that Dr. McKee owes my father an apology. I knew then and know now that Dr. McKee doesn’t want my opinion or agree with it. I felt that St. Luke’s Hospital and agencies that set standards for Dr. McKee should review my opinion and see if they agree.
My past actions:
I visited the following websites that seek patient ratings of doctors:
Insider Pages, Health Grades, Vitals.
I posted the contents of enclosure 1. I confined my comments to a recitation of my personal experiences. I did not state any generalities or any opinions about Dr. McKee’s medical skills.
I next sent enclosure 2 to: American Academy of Neurology; American Neurological Association; Attending Physician Craig L. Gilbertson, MD; Lake Superior Medical Society; Minnesota Board of Medical Practice; Minnesota Department of Health Office of Health Facility Complaints; Minnesota Medical Association; Minnesota Quality Improvement Organization, Office of Quality Monitoring, The Joint Commission (JCAHO); Patients Action Network, American Medical Association; St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee Senior Ombudsman; St. Luke’s Hospital Patient Advocate.
Since I don’t know who influences Dr. McKee’s behavior, I sent enclosure 2 to any agency that might be able to counsel him about his bedside manner.
My present intentions:
Today, I received an email from the Ruth Martinez, Supervisor, Complaint Review Unit, MN Board of Medical Practice. It says “If you would like to file a complaint against one or more professionals regulated by the Board of Medical Practice, you may download the complaint forms from the Home Page of the Board’s website at http://www.bmp.state.mn.us. Please sign and return the completed forms to our office by US Postal Service. You may wish to attach a copy of your e-mail summary to the complaint form, rather than rewriting your complaint. If you have any difficulty downloading the forms from the website, let me know and I will be happy to mail you the necessary forms.”
Before I received your letter, my inclination has been to let this drop. I got it off my chest. I think Dr. McKee’s behavior was rude. I felt somebody whose opinion matters to him should tell him “We got this complaint; we thought you should see it.” That was all I sought. I don’t think Dr. McKee’s curtness to my father merits loss or suspension of his license or privileges, and I know I don’t have the horsepower to accomplish that anyway. Until today, my actions were finished – no more letters, no more forum postings, no legal action.
My future intentions:
I shall, of necessity, visit the lawyer who has previously counseled me about estate planning and business contracts. I’ll ask him if my expressed complaints about Dr. McKee’s behavior do, in fact, constitute defamation. I anticipate he may have to refer me to another attorney.
I returned to the websites on which I posted enclosure 1. None provides a mechanism for my deleting my comments. If Dr. McKee has you contact me again, I’ll take that as his desire that I balance my remarks by amending them to include his response to me, so the public can see his rebuttal. I’ll also send a copy of your letter to each of my previous addressees, so they can see your assertion that Dr. McKee denies making the statement that I attribute to him. Otherwise, I have no intention of posting anything more about Dr. McKee or corresponding with anybody about Dr. McKee.
Only if I feel the necessity, I’ll write to Ms. Martinez. I’ll affirm to her that my original statements are true. I’ll ask for the complaint form – not only because of Dr. McKee’s behavior toward my father, but because he threatened legal action against me for using valid communications channels to seek a valid and measured response.
I affirm to you in this letter and in any other necessary venue that Doctor McKee said and did the things I’ve asserted. My mother, father, and wife will attest to that. Having had a stroke, my father has forgotten Dr. McKee’s name, but he does remember that his unpleasant conversation was with the neurologist who visited him. I’ve never met Dr. McKee before and wasn’t predisposed to picking a fight with one of my father’s treating sources. I felt Dr. McKee owed my father an apology. I’m pragmatic enough to know that won’t happen. Left to my own devices, I’m no longer inclined to discuss Dr. McKee’s behavior with anybody.
I’ll consider this matter finished. Will Dr. McKee?
DENNIS K. LAURION
[ In January 2011, Defendant Laurion was deposed about his letter to Dr. McKee’s lawyer, Marshall Tanick. That deposition transcript became an Exhibit in the Minnesota Defamation Lawsuit of David McKee, MD, V. Dennis K. Laurion, Minnesota Sixth Judicial District Case 69DU-CV-10-1706, Filed June 9, 2010. ]
TANICK: On page 3, you state at the end of the first paragraph you had no intention of doing anything more about it, posting any more information about Dr. McKee or corresponding with anybody about Dr. McKee. Right? That’s what you said in your letter?
LAURION: I said that with the preface “otherwise.”
TANICK: “Otherwise.” So what did you mean, “otherwise?”
LAURION: I meant that if there’s no further need to post about him, that I won’t. If I’m left alone, I’m fine.
TANICK: All right. And you conclude by saying, “I am no longer inclined to discuss Dr. McKee’s behavior with anybody.” And the next paragraph is “I’ll consider this matter finished. Right? And “Will Doctor McKee” question mark. Right?
LAURION: Yes, and I was taking your threat letter at face value, that if I complied with what you wanted, that would be the end of the issue.
TANICK: However, you decided not to do that. Right?
LAURION: No, I don’t agree with that.
TANICK: All right. So the letter prompted you to do something?
TANICK: And what is it, it prompted you to do?
LAURION: You told me not to talk to anybody else and to delete the postings. I deleted the postings and stopped talking to anybody else.
TANICK: Did you do anything else relative to that?
LAURION: Ask me something specific, so I can answer it one way or the other.
TANICK: Did you do anything relative to the Dr. McKee situation other than try to delete postings?
LAURION: I successfully deleted the postings, those sites I wrote to and asked them to delete them and they deleted them. The sites that hadn’t posted them wrote and told me that they hadn’t posted them. I just did not delete them manually.
TANICK: Did you have any communication at any time, Mr. Laurion, with any members of the media respecting or regarding Dr. McKee and the situation with he (sic) and your father?
LAURION: Not by name. I wrote to – only after I got your threat letter, I wrote to Mark Stodghill and to two television stations. I said, “I have been threatened by a lawsuit by a doctor. If he follows through, is it newsworthy?” Nowhere in these contacts did I say his name or even my father’s name or St. Luke’s Hospital as a track back.
TANICK: Mr. Laurion, I have before you Exhibit 11, and that’s a collection of communications that you made to members of the media, right, concerning the situation with Dr. McKee. Right?
LAURION: It was concerning the fact that a doctor was suing me, and I asked if that was newsworthy.
TANICK: Exhibit 12 is a document that you sent to ImproveVitals and to Legal – or to InsiderPages and also to City Search – well, no. City – that’s their response. These are – Exhibit 12 is correspondence that you sent to ImproveVitals and InsiderPages asking to delete the postings you had made. Right?
TANICK: And that was a response to my letter to you on May 7th. Right?
TANICK: Okay, why did you – I think you indicated that the reason you sent these letters to these people was to see if my communications to you on behalf of Dr. McKee was (sic) somehow newsworthy. Right?
LAURION: Oh, no. No.
TANICK: All right. Well you tell me why you sent those letters.
LAURION: I sent them to ask if a resulting lawsuit would be noteworthy. I didn’t ask them anything about your letter, nor did I want them to do a piece about my father’s treatment. I was not contacting any of those sources and saying “A doctor was rude to my father. Would you run with it?” because, obviously that wouldn’t be newsworthy. I asked “If I’m sued, will it be newsworthy?”
TANICK: Why were you asking if this was newsworthy? What was your purpose?
LAURION: From what I’ve read on the Internet, this is a precedent type of situation. If you Google doctors who are suing their patients, you will find only six or seven names.
Dr. MCKEE: I’m not suing a patient.
TANICK: Go ahead.
LAURION: And there are several – this apparently is a hot topic. Not only doctors suing families, but anybody suing somebody for Internet defamation. I think even your own website describes Internet defamation as a brand new field, a brand new area of experience. There’s a lot of conversation about it. There are a lot of sites written by doctors for doctors, some of them internists, some of them dentists, and so forth, and inevitably on all of them there’s a question of “How do I respond when somebody complains about me on the Internet?” And the advice generally given is either ask them to retract it, which they probably won’t do, or ignore it, it will make the Web site go higher, and if you sue anybody, it will garner publicity. Also, I never cared about Internet defamation before, but I’ve been converted and I’ve read sites about Internet defamation, and they generally all say if somebody sues you for defamation, you should shine a spotlight on it; and therefore, I felt that if he sues me, he should have the courage of his convictions and let the entire community know it. The article says he rebuts all of those statements. So fine, he got to say he rebutted them. I got to say that I affirmed them. It’s a public debate.
TANICK: All right. And on May 11th, you were contacting media to see if there was some interest on their part in writing an article if you were sued. Right?
LAURION: But I was not writing about Dr. McKee. I was writing and saying I might be sued by a doctor and is that newsworthy?
LAURION: Had he not sued me, and they contacted me again and said what’s happening, I would have said nothing, and I would have never revealed his name.