Kellen Hade: “Doctor’s Lawsuit Over Patient’s Online Review Proceeding To Trial”

JANUARY 25, 2012

“Doctor’s Lawsuit Over Patient’s Online Review Proceeding To Trial”

Kellen Hade, Privacy & Technology Law Blog

Image-Minnesota-Court-Of-Appeals

McKee V. Laurion, No. A11-1154 (Minnesota Court of Appeals)

After his father received sub-par treatment from Plaintiff Dr. David McKee, defendant Dennis Laurion posted a review of the experience on several websites. The review lamented McKee’s bedside manner, citing many examples of things McKee either did or said, and indicated that a nurse referred to the doctor as “a real tool.” McKee sued Laurion for defamation and tortious interference with contracts. The trial court granted Laurion summary judgment on both claims.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed judgment on the defamation claim in part. It disagreed with the trial court that the review was Laurion’s opinion, thus outside the realm of defamation. Instead of adopting this holistic approach, the Court of Appeals parsed out each claim made in the review to determine whether it was capable of of proof. Regardless of whether McKee is actually a tool, the Court held, whether the nurse made the statement is a factual question and can form the basis for a defamation action. However, Laurion’s opinion of McKee’s demeanor – for example, that he scowled a lot – remains unactionable.

These types of lawsuits are becoming increasingly common when professionals are disgruntled over an online review. Even law firms are getting into the mix. Section 230 usually renders the desired remedy, forced removal of the review and/or damages against the website, impossible. Suing the reviewer is the fallback option.

This case is somewhat unique since Laurion’s review summarized factual events more relayed his opinion of McKee. Had Laurion just stated that he thought McKee’s care was sub-par, this case would likely come out differently. But favorable ruling aside, I think it is important for any potential plaintiff to weigh the utility of these lawsuits. Not only are individual clients and patients usually unable to pay any eventual judgment, these lawsuits only prolong and focus the public’s attention on the very thing the plaintiff wants suppressed. Now, regardless of its veracity, that “Dr. McKee is a tool” is within the public record.

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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