California HealthCare Foundation: “Defamation Case Raises Questions About Online Criticism of Physicians”

March 28, 2012

“Defamation Case Raises Questions About Online Criticism of Physicians”

iHealthBeat, A Service Of The California HealthCare Foundation

Reporting Technology’s Impact On Health Care

Image-Angry-Doctor

 A defamation lawsuit in Minnesota is raising questions about how physicians should respond when individuals criticize them online, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.

Background on the Case

Duluth, Minn. neurologist David McKee filed a defamation suit against Dennis Laurion, who posted online comments criticizing McKee’s bedside manner after the physician treated Laurion’s father.

Marshall Tanick — McKee’s attorney — said Laurion distorted the facts in online and offline complaints, accusing McKee of things “that never happened.” McKee is seeking more than $50,000 in damages in the case.

Laurion said he deleted the online comments after McKee filed the lawsuit. According to Laurion’s attorney John Kelly, Laurion’s comments were “constitutionally protected” and reflected Laurion’s perception that the McKee’s conduct was “tactless and inconsiderate.”

The case now is pending before the Minnesota Supreme Court.

How Physicians Respond to Online Criticism

Eric Goldman — associate professor at the Santa Clara University School of Law in California — said physicians and dentists have filed more than a dozen defamation lawsuits since 2004 over online reviews, but most of those cases were dismissed or settled.

In response to the growing number of online critiques, some medical practices have asked patients to sign forms preventing them from posting comments about a physician online.

Jeffrey Segal — a North Carolina neurosurgeon who founded the firm Medical Justice, which used to promote such forms — said his company now advises physicians about how to use doctor rating sites to their advantage. Segal noted that most negative reviews can be neutralized by “something as simple as saying ‘Hey I was having a bad day. I’m sorry'”

Reader Comments

Lauren Starling: Defamation cases, no matter how warranted, may not be in the best interest of the wronged individual. As Segal said in the article, many times the reviewer can be handled quietly and often if it’s done in a timely manner you can turn the reviewer around and they will end up redoing their previous review. Another crucial thing to consider: Most people don’t realize when you bring about a lawsuit you have a good chance of it hitting all the news sites (as this one did) which means when people Google your name or company the first thing they may see from here out is the case which, of course, increases awareness of the initial bad review. Remember your main business goals before hiring an attorney. Consider going to an Online Reputation Manager instead. It may be less costly AND you will actually be able to remove those bad search results from view.

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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