Healthcare Business News: Minnesota Supreme Court Rules Against Doctor In Defamation Suit

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 JANUARY 30, 2013

Minnesota Supreme Court Rules Against Doctor In Defamation Suit

Andis Robeznieks, Healthcare Business News

If a patient’s son refers to his father’s neurologist “as a real tool” in an online post—even if he attributes the statement to an unidentified nurse—the physician in question does not have grounds for legal action.

That appears to be the message in Minnesota Supreme Court Decision A11-1154, which said six statements made by Dennis Laurion were not actionable because either there was no issue as to whether they were false and they “do not convey a defamatory meaning as a matter of law.”

Laurion was sued for defamation and interference with business by Dr. David McKee, a Duluth, Minnesota,  neurologist, after Laurion posted online comments about McKee’s perceived insensitive behavior to his father following a hemorrhagic stroke in April 2010. (The comments were not directed at the medical treatment his father received.)

The case took a twisted path to the state’s highest court. A district court dismissed the complaint, but an appellate court ruled in the doctor’s favor, stating that six of the 11 statements could be construed as fact and therefore could be actionable. The appellate court also ruled that it was up to a jury to decide whether the statements were true or false and defamatory.

Laurion successfully blocked this action, and the appellate court’s ruling went to the state Supreme Court, where arguments were heard this past September.

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In the Supreme Court ruling, Justice Alan Page wrote that the court’s narrow task was to determine whether “genuine issues of material fact exist and whether the district court correctly applied the law.” He wrote, “We view the evidence in the light most favorable” to Laurion.

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Among the statements being ruled on was one in which Laurion said he quoted an anonymous nurse as saying, “Dr. McKee is a real tool!”

The fact that this nurse has never been identified was not important, Page wrote, saying it was an opinion “that is not susceptible to proof and is therefore not actionable.”

Comments

Jason Smith: So, the doctor found out that the family of a patient wasn’t happy with how their family member was treated by him, and the doctor’s response was to SUE? Sounds like that doctor is a real tool.

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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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