American Health Lawyers Association: Minnesota Supreme Court Finds Online Comments About Physician Not Defamatory

Standard

FEBRUARY 8, 2013

“Minnesota Supreme Court Finds Online Comments About Physician Not Defamatory”

American Health Lawyers Association

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

The supreme court for the state of Minnesota held that a physician’s defamation claims against a defendant who complained on various websites about the physician’s conduct were not actionable, as there were no genuine issues of material fact as to the falsity of defendant’s statements, or the statements did not convey a defamatory meaning as a matter of law.

Image-Minnesota-Supreme-Court

Defendant’s father was hospitalized after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke. The treating physician, plaintiff, allegedly made rude and insensitive remarks to defendant and family members when they were visiting the patient. Defendant went on various “rate-your-doctor” websites to describe the allegedly rude and insensitive communications and also wrote letters to various medically affiliated institutions to complain about plaintiff’s conduct.

The physician sued defendant, asserting claims for defamation per se and interference with business. The district court granted defendant’s motion of summary judgment and dismissed plaintiff’s claims with prejudice. The court of appeals affirmed the district court’s dismissal of the interference with business claim but reversed with respect to six of the eleven allegedly defamatory statements made online. The high court reversed the appeals court ruling, affirming the district court’s granting of summary judgment for defendant.

Under Minnesota state law, the defamatory statement must have been communicated to someone other than the plaintiff; must be false; must tend to harm the plaintiff’s reputation and to lower [the plaintiff] in the estimation of the community; and the recipient of the false statement must reasonably understand it to refer to a specific individual.

In this case, the court found the six allegedly defamatory statements were not actionable because the “substance, the gist, the sting” of plaintiff’s version for each of the statements as provided in deposition and defendant’s version essentially carried the same meaning, satisfied the standard for substantial truth, did not show a tendency to harm the plaintiff’s reputation and lower his estimation in the community, or were incapable of conveying a defamatory meaning (e.g., when a nurse told defendant that plaintiff was “a real tool”) based on “how an ordinary person understands the language used in the light of surrounding circumstances.”

Source Online

Source On Page 294 Of PDF Document

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

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s