ABA Journal: Is Online Assertion that Doctor Is ‘A Real Tool’ Protected Opinion?

SEPTEMBER 5, 2012

“Is Online Assertion that Doctor Is ‘A Real Tool’ Protected Opinion? Minnesota Top Court Mulls the Issue”

Debra Cassens Weiss, American Bar Association Journal

 Image-Not-A-Drill-For-Hospitals

 

 

 

 

 

 

An assertion that a Duluth neurologist is “a real tool” is at the center of a defamation battle pending before the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Dennis Laurion criticized Dr. David McKee’s bedside manner on several doctor-rating websites, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports. McKee had treated Laurion’s elderly father after a stroke, and Laurion perceived the doctor as insensitive. “When I mentioned Dr. McKee’s name to a friend who is a nurse, she said, ‘Dr. McKee is a real tool!’ ” Laurion wrote.

McKee’s lawyer, Marshall Tanick, told the Justices his client’s defamation suit should be allowed to go to trial, the story says. Tanick argued before the court on Tuesday that Laurion made up the “tool” quote, just as he made up part of the encounter with McKee. Laurion’s online reviews went beyond opinion, Tanick said.

Laurion’s lawyer, John Kelly, countered that people “ought to have a degree of latitude in expressing their opinion.” He said the word “tool” is no worse than “calling someone an idiot or a fool.”

COMMENTS

Dr. Phun: He does sound like a real tool!

OKBankLaw: It’s been awhile since Torts, but the defense to Defamation is Truth, correct? Does the doctor really want the defendant proving in open court that said doctor is a tool? Because filing this lawsuit in the first place, might be a good first step to proving the Truth of the statement.

Qwerty: Truth is a defense to defamation. As only a “tool” would file suit for being called a “tool,” the Dr. appears to have lost his case simply by bringing it.

Deborah Kennedy: We suppose that the good doctor’s counsel has a verifiable manner by which he can prove the assertion that indeed the quote attributed to a nurse was actually fabricated by Mr. Laurion; if not, the description of the doctor as a “real tool” will only be the beginning of his problems. Even so, where’s the substance for the court to address? Sticks and stones, eh?

Ken: you commenters lurk on craigslist all day long, don’t you?

Avon: I think the lawyers on both sides are the biggest tools here. They seem to be equally oblivious to the concept that if it’s pure opinion then it’s not actionable. They deserve each other. And if they ever do get to a jury, the common-sense outcome will most likely be just what the law provides – nonsuit, and perhaps sanctionable nonsense. If the doctor wanted to sue and got the lousy advice that he could do so, I feel sorry for him (and his adversary party). But if he just got a lawyer as a tool to do his bidding, then he should get screwed by it.

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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