October 25, 2012
“Can You Be Sued For Critical Comments Online?”
Arlington Heights Daily Herald, Illinois
A Minnesota doctor took offense when a patient’s son posted critical remarks about him on some rate-your-doctor websites, including a comment by a nurse who purportedly called the physician “a real tool.”
So Dr. David McKee had an unusually aggressive response. He sued the son for defamation. The Duluth neurologist’s improbable case has advanced all the way to the Minnesota Supreme Court, which is weighing whether the lawsuit should go to trial.
“His reputation is at stake. He does not want to be a target for false and malicious remarks,” said his lawyer, Marshall Tanick.
McKee’s case highlights the tension that sometimes develops on websites such as Yelp and Angie’s List when the free speech rights of patients and their families clash with the rights of doctors, lawyers and other professionals to protect their good names.