Recovery Blog – Disgruntled Patients & Families Can Vent

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JANUARY 31, 2013

 Disgruntled Patients & Families Can Vent… Legally!

Marshall S. Lichty, Recovery Blog

People have very different reactions to their interactions with healthcare providers. Some are thankful, come what may. Some are inquisitive, some doubting, and some awe-struck. And some attempt to incite online flame wars against doctors who’ve failed to meet their expectations.


 

Dennis-Kenneth-May-2012-Horizontal-Crop

Dennis Laurion and Kenneth Laurion


 

Enter Dennis Laurion, a fella whose father was hospitalized for a hemorrhagic stroke at St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth. When Laurion met David McKee, M.D., he was decidedly unimpressed. Apparently Dr. McKee’s bedside manner left something to be desired in Laurion’s eyes, and after his father was eventually discharged from the hospital, Laurion took to the interwebs to vent a bit. Among other things, he wrote that, “When I mentioned Dr. McKee’s name to a friend who is a nurse, she said, ‘Dr. McKee is a real tool!’”

Now, reasonable minds may differ on whether being called a “tool” is more offensive than it is laughable, but Dr. McKee was not pleased. He sued Laurion for defamation and interference with his business. The litigation eventually landed in front of the Supreme Court of Minnesota, which issued its decision yesterday.

Turns out that calling someone “a real tool” is an opinion that cannot be reasonably interpreted as stating a fact and cannot be proven true or false. The Court concluded the phrase amounted to nothing more than “mere vituperation and abuse” or “rhetorical hyperbole,” and was not an appropriate basis for a defamation action as a result.

So, what are the take-aways? First, “vituperation” is an awesome word. Second, and probably more importantly, disgruntled patients and their families can feel confident that opinions about their healthcare providers, even if published for broad consumption online, are protected speech. Nice, I suppose, given that many patients and families often need a whole host of “tools” to help them recover when health care treatment goes awry.

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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