The Kelly Law Firm: “The WWII Vet vs. The Doctor: A Case Of Internet Defamation Law”

FEBRUARY 15, 2011

“The WWII Vet vs. The Doctor: A Case Of Internet Defamation Law”

The Kelly Law Firm

There must be something in the air, because as of late, Internet defamation law is the talk of the legal town — online and off. Former Major League superstar, Roger Clemens, is embroiled in an upcoming defamation lawsuit, while online travel heavyweight, TripAdvisor.com, is staring down the barrel of a hotel vendor group action; and in Duluth, Minnesota, a doctor is suing his patient’s son for – yep, you guessed it – spreading lies online.

Background Of The McKee Laurion Internet Defamation Lawsuit

Kenneth-Vernon-L-WWII-Navy-PO2

Petty Officer Kenneth Laurion

In April of 2010, World War II Veteran, Kenneth Laurion, was treated for a hemorrhagic stroke by Dr. David McKee, a neurologist, at St. Luke’s Hospital. During Mr. Laurion’s time in the hospital, his family alleged that Dr. McKee’s behavior was unacceptable and beyond reproach. The good doc, they claimed, lacked common sensitivity, in both actions and comments, towards patient Kenneth and the rest of the Laurion clan. To air his personal grievances, Dennis Laurion, Kenneth’s son, took to the Internet and commented on his displeasure with Dr. McKee.

In June, Dr. McKee filed a defamation lawsuit against Dennis. McKee’s attorney, Marshall Tanick, called Laurion’s alleged defamatory remarks ,”weapons of mass destruction” (Oh yes, he went there). Tanick also argued that “The totality of statements made on these websites would be injurious to the reputation and standing of a doctor in the eyes of others who might see it, including patients or prospective patients, colleagues, peers, referral sources, and others.”

The Internet Defamation Lawsuit Hearings

Dennis-Kenneth-May-2012-Horizontal-Crop

Dennis Laurion and Kenneth Laurion

On February 8th, accompanied by his wife and father, Dennis Laurion found himself in the Sixth Judicial District Court. He explained how when he went to the intensive care unit to check on his father, he overheard Dr. McKee quip, “I had to find out whether you had been transferred or died.”

In a deposition, McKee acknowledged he had made the statement, but insists it was in good humor and intended to alleviate tension.

Dr. McKee is seeking excess of $50,000. The Laurions and their lawyer, John Kelly, claim any statements made about the doctor were true, thereby rendering Dennis Laurion immune from any liability. In the eyes of Kelly, Laurion’s comments were opinions that cannot be demonstrated to be false in court.

Eric Hylden, the presiding judge, labeled the case as “very interesting.” Later, Hylden implied that, Constitutionally, Dennis certainly has a right to an opinion, but then went on to question whether or not there is some limitation to what citizens can say in an online public forum.

The Internet Defamation Lawsuit Future

Hylden has 90 days to mull over the issue before his summary judgment ruling is due. Between you, me and the lamppost, it certainly does seem like someone’s itching to make some Internet defamation law history.  For First Amendment warriors, the Internet defamation case of Dr. McKee vs. Dennis Laurion is one to follow.

SOURCE

This article was reprinted  October 28, 2011, and May 10, 2014, by Kelly Warner Law

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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