iHealthBeat: Minnesota Supreme Court Dismisses Case About Online Doctor Criticism

JANUARY 31, 2013

“Minnesota Supreme Court Dismisses Case About Online Doctor Criticism”

Image-iHealthbeat

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in a defamation lawsuit that critical remarks posted on a physician rating website fell under free speech protections, Modern Physician reports.

Image-Minnesota-Supreme-Court

Background On The Case

 About two years ago, Duluth, Minnesota, 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 (iHealthBeat,  3/28/12).

The comments included a claim that a nurse called the doctor “a real tool” (Karnowski, AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune,  1/30).

Marshall Tanick — McKee’s attorney — said Laurion distorted the facts in online and offline complaints, accusing McKee of things “that never happened.” McKee sought 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 are “constitutionally protected” and reflected Laurion’s perception that the McKee’s conduct was “tactless and inconsiderate” (iHealthBeat,  3/28/12).

Details Of Ruling

In the new ruling, Justice Alan Page wrote that Laurion’s comments fall into “the category of pure opinion” because they “cannot be reasonably interpreted as stating a fact” or “proven true or false.” Therefore, Laurion’s remarks “cannot be the basis for a defamation action,” Page added.

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The ruling also stated that it is irrelevant whether the nurse who Laurion referred to was fabricated.

Comments From Attorneys

 Tanick said that he and McKee are disappointed with the ruling but do not plan to file an appeal.  He said, “We feel it gives individuals undue license to make disparaging and derogatory statements about these people, particularly doctors and other licensed professionals, on the Internet without much recourse.”

Although the ruling is not binding in other states, Tanick and Kelly agreed that it could potentially affect how other courts rule on similar complaints (AP/Minneapolis Star Tribune,  1/30).

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

 

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