Minnesota Supreme Court Hears Duluth Neurologist’s Defamation Lawsuit

SEPTEMBER 5, 2012

“Minnesota Supreme Court Hears Duluth Neurologist’s Defamation Lawsuit”

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The Duluth News Tribune and McClatchy Tribune Information Services report that the Minnesota Supreme Court heard the case of a Duluth neurologist Tuesday who sued a patient’s son after being criticized on rate-your-doctor websites for his bedside manner.

Dr. David McKee, a neurologist with Northland Neurology and Myology, Duluth, Minnesota, filed the defamation lawsuit against Dennis Laurion of Duluth. McKee alleged that Laurion defamed him and interfered with his business by posting false statements on the Internet and to various third parties, including the American Academy of Neurology, the American Neurological Association, the St. Louis County Public Health and Human Services Advisory Committee, and St. Luke’s Hospital, among others.

Defendant Laurion claimed that any statements he made about the doctor were true and that he is immune from any liability to the plaintiff. McKee is asking for more than $50,000 in damages.

State District Judge Eric Hylden last year ruled that McKee was not defamed by the criticism and dismissed the doctor’s lawsuit. McKee appealed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals, and in January that court sent the case back to the district court for a jury to decide if six statements Laurion posted about McKee on rate-your-doctor websites and distributed elsewhere were defamatory.

Laurion appealed the Court of Appeals decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the case was heard in St. Paul on Tuesday. Duluth attorney John Kelly presented Laurion’s position to the high court. “I argued that the posting to a website is part of the context that colors or shapes what Mr. Laurion was trying to do, and the essential nature of one of these websites is to provide subjective feedback, and people get lots of subjective feedback from different perspectives and from different experiences,” Kelly said. “I believe that people going to these websites don’t expect any one recitation or report to be definitive. They’re looking for a range. So seen in that light, what Mr. Laurion was doing was offering his view of an encounter and his overall impression was that the doctor hadn’t responded as well, or wasn’t as respectful, toward his father as he would have hoped.” To establish a defamation claim, a party must prove that the defendant communicated to a third party a factual assertion that is false and tends to harm a plaintiff’s reputation in the community.

Laurion was critical of how his father, Kenneth, now 87, and his family were treated by McKee after his father suffered a hemorrhagic stroke and spent four days at St. Luke’s Hospital.

Minneapolis attorney Marshall Tanick represented McKee before the Supreme Court on Tuesday. “We argued to the court that Mr. Laurion published both on the Internet and to approximately 20 others, including medical organizations, false statements about Dr. McKee that disparaged his professional abilities and hurt his reputation,” Tanick said. “We asked the court to affirm the decision of the Court of Appeals so that Dr. McKee has the opportunity to present this to a jury and get his day in court.” The Court of Appeals determined that McKee’s defamation suit should proceed regarding these six claims Laurion publicly made about the doctor:

  • McKee told the patient he had to “spend time finding out if you were transferred or died.”
  • McKee said, “44 percent of hemorrhagic strokes die within 30 days. I guess this is the better option.”
  • McKee said, “You don’t need therapy.”
  • McKee said, “It doesn’t matter” that the patient’s gown did not cover his backside.
  • McKee left the patient’s room without talking to the patient’s family.
  • A nurse told Laurion that McKee was “a real tool.”

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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