Bassford Remele Case Law Update: Defamation – Material Falsity And Defamatory Meaning

FEBRUARY 1, 2013

“Defamation – Material Falsity And Defamatory Meaning”

Bassford Remele Case Law Update

 During the week of February 1, 2013, the Minnesota appellate courts released an opinion on the following topic that may be of interest to our clients:

  • Summary judgment is warranted in a defamation action if there are no genuine issues of material fact as to a statement’s falsity or if the statement does not convey a defamatory meaning as a matter of law.

Defendant’s father was examined by plaintiff neurologist.  Defendant was present for portions of the examination and felt that plaintiff acted in a rude and insensitive manner. In response, defendant posted statements about plaintiff on various “rate your doctor” websites. Plaintiff filed suit alleging defamation and interference with business based on eleven of defendant’s statements.

Image-Lawyer-Counsels-Doctor

The district court granted summary judgment in favor of defendant on all counts, holding the statements lacked defamatory meaning, were protected opinion, or were substantially true. The court of appeals reversed with respect to six of the allegedly defamatory statements, reasoning that those statements were factual assertions, that there were genuine issues as to falsity, and that the statements tended to harm plaintiff’s reputation.

The Minnesota Supreme Court reversed, concluding that the district court had properly granted summary judgment on all claims. The Court first held there were no genuine issues of material fact as to the falsity of three of those statements because the “gist” or “sting” of the statements was substantially similar to statements plaintiff admitted making.  Thus, any inaccuracy of expression did not change the meaning of what plaintiff admitted to having said.  The Court then held that the remaining three statements, as a matter of law, did not convey a defamatory meaning. The Court reasoned that two of the statements detailed acceptable behavior, and the other was an opinion not susceptible of proof.

McKee v. Laurion, A11-1154, (Minn. Jan. 30, 2013).

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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